Joseph Bruchac and Bowman Books

A good place to start looking for New England Native American writing is through Joseph Bruchac’s Native American authors catalog.

An Abenaki from upstate New York, Bruchac’s own output is impressive enough: he has written over 100 books—novels, poetry, and children’s books for all age groups. His memoir, Bowman’s Store, is a must-read for anyone interested in learning about Abenaki lives and histories in the northeast. And he recently re-issued his important children’s book, Hidden Roots, which bravely tackles the sordid history of the Vermont Eugenics Project.

Bruchac is also a crucial figure in the history of Native American publishing. In the 1970s, frustrated with the lack of attention that Native writers were getting, he and his wife Carol established the Greenfield Review Literary Center. As editor of the Greenfield Literary Review Press, Bruchac has published and promoted hundreds of fine works by multicultural authors (not just Native ones) that might not have garnered an audience. I’ve also learned a great deal from him as an anthologist: he has published important collections of Native literature that have introduced me to so many fine writers, like Returning the Gift.

Today, with his son Jesse (a literary and linguistic powerhouse in his own right), Bruchac is operating Bowman Books. His philosophy, which he stated at last year’s Indigenous New England Conference at UNH, is this: “No Native writer who wants to be in print should be unable to be published, and no Native writer should ever have to go out of print.” Bowman Books is helping Native authors get published and re-published in a supportive, affordable, and sustainable fashion. They’ve reprinted Carol Dana’s (Penobscot) gorgeous but little-known poetry collection,When No One Is Looking, a book I’ve loved for years, but that has been maddeningly out of print. They also published Mi’kmaq poet Alice Azure’s fascinating memoir, Along Came a Spider.

If you’re interested in Native American literature, and like supporting small, independent publishers and authors, definitely visit Bowman Books. And, of course, you can learn more at each of the Bruchacs’ own websites.

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