In this episode of The Archive Project, we feature Leslie Marmon Silko in conversation with Molly Gloss from a special event in 2010, at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall.
While Leslie Marmon Silko had begun to publish poems and short stories in the 1960s, it was her iconic and ground-breaking novel, Ceremony, published in 1978, that established her as one our greatest living writers. Since then, Silko has gone on to publish widely and across genres with a distinct voice, deeply rooted in the landscapes and culture of the American Southwest.
She joined us in 2010 as part of the launch of her first book of nonfiction, The Turquoise Ledge, which was a highly anticipated release in part because it was her first book in more than a decade. The Turquoise Ledge has been called a “highly original self-portrait” and is written in fragments that blends nature writing, memoir, history, parables and legends. When asked by an interviewer about the book’s fluid structure and movement between memory and reality, Silko said, “Linear time is itself a fiction which I find tedious and simpleminded.” And as she says in this conversation, linear time can also be very dangerous.
Silko is in conversation with writer Molly Gloss, a celebrated writer of many novels, including the acclaimed The Hearts of Horses, and the winner many prestigious prizes including the Oregon Book Award.
Leslie Marmon Silko was born in New Mexico in 1948 to a family whose ancestry includes Mexican, Laguna Indian, and European forebears. She is the author of ten books of fiction, poetry, and memoir, including Ceremony, Storyteller, Almanac of the Dead, Gardens in the Dunes, and The Turquoise Ledge. Considered by many as one of the most important contemporary Native American writers, Silko’s honors include a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” fellowship, the Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for significant contribution to American literature, and the Robert Kirsch Award from the Los Angeles Times for lifetime achievement by a writer whose work focuses on the American West. She has been named a Living Cultural Treasure by the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Council, and has also received the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award.
Molly Gloss is a fourth-generation Oregonian who now lives in Portland on the west side of the Tualatin Hills. She is the author of five novels: The Jump-Off Creek, The Dazzle of Day, Wild Life, The Hearts of Horses, and Falling from Horses, and one collection of stories, Unforseen. Her awards include the Oregon Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, the PEN West Fiction Prize, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and a Whiting Writers Award; and her short story, “Lambing Season” was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Her work often concerns the landscape, literature, mythology, and life of the American West.