Live from the Ave offers poetry at All My Relations Gallery

From Maggie Thompson's "Where I Fit"

From Maggie Thompson's "Where I Fit"

Closing out textile artist Maggie Thompson's show, "Where I Fit," at All My Relations Gallery will be a group of American Indian poets giving performances as part of Live from the Ave. The poetry jam is part of a new series, and is hosted by R. Vincent Moniz Jr. The poets, who all come from the Loft Literary Center's TGI Frybread writing group, which supports Native writers, will offer their literary and poetic responses to Thompson's work Saturday evening. 

The first Live from the Ave event happened last year, when there was a Native literary conference going on at the same time. Several high-profile writers, such as Deborah Miranda, were in town, and Moniz Jr. wanted to create an event that would give opportunity for local Native artists to meet and hear the nationally known authors.

Earlier this May, which is American Indian Month, Live From the Ave held an event which included a mix of established and emerging poets. 

"For a while now, I've been thinking about making more of an effort to be as inclusive as possible to the variety of genres of artists coming out of the community," says gallery director and curator Dyani White Hawk. 

After brainstorming with Moniz Jr. and former All My Relations curator Heid Erdrich, White Hawk says they decided to continue the Live from the Ave series on a regular basis. "It does a great deal of good," she says, noting that the cross-pollination between visual-arts and literary-arts audiences offer great opportunities to bring people together.
In the same vein, White Hawk says the gallery plans to have other performance events in the future, including a residency starting in June with choreographer Rosy Simas, who will be creating an installation with a stage set and video, to be supplemented by a series of performances and talks. 

According to White Hawk, the writers will be addressing the larger-scale themes in Thompson's work, such as cultural appropriation, Native authenticity, stereotypes, and notions of identity, be it personal or tribal. While these themes are prolific in Native arts, "it's unique that she's doing it in textiles," White Hawk says. "She's very young and has a fresh perspective. She has some really personal stories that have prompted her to approach these conversations." 

For this weekend's reading from The TGI Frybread writer's group, Moniz Jr. wanted a chance to showcase a group of emerging writers. "They really like the identity issues that Maggie is talking about in her work," he says. Each of the poets will get about five to six minutes to perform, and Moniz Jr. will be reading a longer piece about stereotypes that he feels directly speaks to Thompson's work. 

Participants include Patricia Van Ert, Mary Harrold, Lois Mineau, Marne Zafar, and Ardie Medina, who runs the TGI Frybread group. The event will also offer food and drink from the Pow Wow Grounds Coffee shop next door. 

For Moniz Jr., hosting a performance space for indigenous writers hopefully will encourage other Native people to write about their own experiences. Besides that, "we just want to put on a good show," he says.

Moniz Jr. hopes to host as many Live from the Ave events as possible this summer, and then go to a quarterly basis after that. 


Live from the Ave Poetry Jam

6 p.m. Saturday, May 31

All My Relations Gallery

1414 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis