A Night of There There

Native author Tommy Orange of California came to South Hadley, Massachusetts last night to read from his novel, There There. Every seat was filled.

He read the prologue that was full of wit and grit to the mostly White audience. The truth of what the gov’t did/do to Native Americans and how Hollywood depicted/s Indians saddens me. I know the truth he spoke.

The last two lines from the “Urbanity” segment rattled me to sit-up from my slouching position: “Being Indian has never been about returning to the land. The land is everywhere or nowhere” (11).

Tommy Orange read from his novel, There There, to the audience at Odyssey Bookshop.          Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.

I noticed he handled the questions like a champ. I think I will be nervous when I read at bookstores (fingers and toes crossed my thesis becomes published someday).

I heard the same wisdom from him as what my first Lesley University MFA mentor, Janet Pocorobba, told me in Fall 2016. Someone asked him how did he deals with painful issues? He replied with pain is relative. Writing helps get through the pain.
I know his book will detail the pain that fellow Indians felt/feel. It’s inevitable.

I asked him what his favorite part of the book was (I’m a spazz; I admit it).
He said he loved writing it. I shouldn’t be surprised as I agonize editing my thesis for the hundredth time. It’s a perverse love that only fellow writers understand.

An inspirational quote from a fellow Native MFA writer! Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.

It’s all good. I went with my Native elder, Joyce Vincent, and met some UMass Amherst faculty and another Native with husband. I wish more Natives attended but on a Wednesday night, who knows what everyone’s schedules are. We laughed and nodded and clapped for this gentleman. I’m glad we went and look forward to reading his book.

He let me take a selfie. Photo by Ella Alkiewicz. 060618.




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