Arts & Culture

Poet Heid E. Erdrich Brings “Little Big Bully” to Augsburg

Trinity Whitesel, contributor
Photo of Heid E. Erdrich: “File:Heid E Erdrich 2018.jpg” by Larry D. Moore is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Students and faculty gathered to listen to award-winning author Heid E. Erdrich read from her newly released collection of poems “Little Big Bully” at an event organized by the English Department.

An Ojibwe woman from North Dakota, Erdrich proudly implements Native culture into her stories. Erdrich’s poems bear witness to different events that have affected herself and those in her community. She retells accounts of stalking, sexual assault, loss of personal autonomy, childhood experiences and love.

Erdrich started her reading by sharing the process she went through while creating “Little Big Bully”: she decided to challenge herself by writing the 120-page book in the span of one month. She began the publishing process during quarantine and sent the final poem of the collection right before the publishing deadline.

Erdrich said the poems within her book are a collection of accounts of oppression and bullying that lead her to ask, “When does someone decide to side with the bully?” Students and faculty posted quotes and questions in the Zoom chat while Erdrich read her work. A particular quote sparked a lot of engagement: “when nothing is said the story is starved.” 

The front cover of “Little Big Bully” was illustrated by Andrea Carlson, a friend of Erdrich’s. They worked together to implement important Native symbols on the front cover and within the collection. 

The poetry reading ended rather abruptly due to students and faculty needing to attend class, but Erdrich’s presence at Augsburg was unforgettable. Being a Native American activist and feminist figure within Minneapolis, Erdrich is often working with members of the community or taking care of her bookstore Birchbark Books and Native Arts over by Lake Harriet.

Erdrich’s book was released by Penguin Random House on Oct. 6.