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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Listen, Share, Assist -- Formula for Success

“I think every writer will tell you that their characters are always partially themselves: who I am and what I've experienced. It's always there in part of my characters.” – Joseph Bruchac

Bruchac, who has the interesting lineage of Slovak and Native American (the Abenaki tribe of upstate New York) has published poetry, nonfiction, novels, and short stories, most of which focus on Native stories, culture and history.  For two great novels about the Abenaki – pre-European contact – check out his books Dawn Land and its sequel Long River.

“From my teenage years on, I sought out Native elders from many tribal nations and listened to their words,” he said.  “I also started a small press, The Greenfield Review Press, and became very involved with publishing the work of other American Indian authors, especially books of poetry.”   A founder of the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, he has helped numerous Native authors get their start.

And, among the numerous non-Native writers who credit him with help is Alex Haley, who wrote Roots.  Haley said Bruchac not only gave him encouragement, but helped him find other books to use in his research.  

Born on this day in 1942, Bruchac has done          
some 120 books of his own and earned numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.   In recent years, he also has collaborated on 8 books with his son Jim.   In addition to the novels noted above, I highly recommend his historical books March Toward the Thunder, about Native men who enlisted in the American Civil War; and Code talker: A Book About the Navajo Marines.

As for advice to new writers, he noted, “ Well, I was a very avid reader when I was a child, and I also was a good listener.”

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