Paperback. Wayne State University Press (2015).
This is part of Woodland Pattern's 2016 Local Author Reading Challenge. Learn More.
Depending on dialect, the Anishinaabemowin word "weweni" expresses thanks, exactitude, ease, and sincerity. In addition, the word for "relatives" is "nindenwemaaganag": those whose "enewewe," or voices, sound familiar. In Weweni,poet Margaret Noodin brings all of these meanings to bear in a unique bilingual collection. Noodin’s warm and perceptive poems were written first in the Modern Anishinaabemowin double-vowel orthography and appear translated on facing pages in English.
From planetary tracking to political contrasts, stories of ghosts, and messages of trees, the poems in Weweni use many images to speak to the interconnectedness of relationships, moments of difficulty and joy, and dreams and cautions for the future. As poems move from Anishinaabemowin to English, the challenge of translation offers multiple levels of meaning—English meanings found in Anishinaabe words long as rivers and knotted like nets, English approximations that bend the dominant language in new directions, and sets of signs and ideas unable to move from one language to another. In addition to the individual dialogues played out beween Noodin’s poems, the collection as a whole demonstrates a fruitful and respectful dialogue between languages and cultures.
Noodin’s poems will be proof to students and speakers of Anishinaabemowin that the language can be a vital space for modern expression and, for those new to the language, a lyric invitation to further exploration. Anyone interested in poetry or linguistics will enjoy this one-of-a-kind volume.
A book of dreams and cautions that reaches out to the reader time and again with humor, quiet wonder, wit, joy, and companionship. — Heid E. Erdrich
About the Author
Margaret Noodin received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English and Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also serves at the Director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education. She is the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature and Weweni, a collection of bilingual poems in Ojibwe and English. Her poems and essays have been anthologized and published in Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Water Stone Review, and Yellow Medicine Review. With her daughters, Shannon and Fionna, she is a member of Miskwaasining Nagamojig (the Swamp Singers) a women’s hand drum group whose lyrics are all in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe). To see and hear current projects visit www.ojibwe.net where she and other students and speakers of Ojibwe have created a space for language to be shared by academics and the native community. She is a strong advocate for education and community engagement through relevant research and teaching. In Milwaukee she works with the First Nations Program in the Milwaukee Public Schools, the Milwaukee School of Languages, the Milwaukee Indian Community School, the Audubon Center and the Urban Ecology Center.