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10 Questions for Tiffany Midge

a: You are chopping onions for yet another pot of lentils, hips pressed up against the kitchen counter, when first you hear it. The sound of mewling. Barely audible. You put down your knife.

b: One year earlier, on fellowship in Kansas, you are returning to your Airbnb from your walk. You see your house and yard down the street within view, but something looks peculiar. As you come closer, you can make it out: a vulture feeding on a possum's corpse
—from "sheltering," Volume 61, Issue 4 (Winter 2020)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
I wrote about the sky as if it were a patchwork quilt—“seams and denim skies.” And I workshopped it with William Stafford at a community poetry class, and he was very gracious and supportive.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Claudia Rankine. Roxane Gay, of course! I love Samantha Irby. I’ve always loved Joy Harjo. And I love Sarah Vowell, Alexandra Petri, Nora Ephron, and Joan Didion. 

What did you want to be when you were young?
Professional lion tamer. Assassin for hire. Distinguished Poet-Want-Fries-With-That.

What inspired you to write this piece?
The vulture feeding on the dead possum in the yard at my Airbnb in Kansas. It was so grisly a scene, that a year later with the pandemic, it now seems downright prescient.

Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
The Land of Make Believe.

Is there any specific music that aids you through the writing or editing process?
I forget to play music.

Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I tend to over snack. And I prefer unrealistic environments like solitude which has been difficult to attain with the pandemic when one has roomates.

If you could work in another art form what would it be?
Stand up comic. 

What are you working on currently?
A poetry collection about the monstrous feminine. And a short story collection called “The Urban NDN Woman’s Guide to Dating.”

What are you reading right now?
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem: The Unheralded Story of Native Americans & Comedy by Kliph Nesteroff. It’s based off interviews with slews of Indigenous comedians and writers, super exciting book! Progressive! I wish I would have written it. It isn’t out until this February.

TIFFANY MIDGE is a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. A former humor columnist for Indian Country Today, she taught writing and composition for Northwest Indian College. Her memoir is Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s (Bison Books).

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