Poets Paige Riehl and Louise K. Waakaa’igan in Conversation

In this conversation, Lyricality’s “Read Poetry 2020” poet Su Hwang reads “Father” by Louise K. Waakaa’igan and responds with her poem “Eomma.” Su Hwang is a poet, activist, stargazer, and the author of Bodega, Lyricality’s selections for “Read Poetry 2020” and recipient of the 2020 Minnesota Book Award in poetry. Su’s poems invite us to recognize trauma and to, in her words, “rage responsibly.” Her poems invite us to concede our egoistic ideals and fantasies to the truth of experience, as she writes in her poem “The Price of Rice”

This August, Lyricality Founder/Director Tracy Rittmueller is pleased to present Lyricality’s “Read Poetry 2021” chosen author, Louise K. Waakaa’igan along with the guest poets who graced us with their presence at “an Evening with Louise K. Waakaa’igan” on April 8, 2021. Please enjoy this video series offering a deep-dive into Louise’s poetry, in conversation with 6 of Minnesota’s wonderful poets–3 nationally known poets from the Twin Cities metroplex and 3 accomplished Somali-American poets from Saint Cloud.

About THIS IS WHERE and Louise K. Waakaa’igan

This August (2021), ​​This Is Where, guides a series of video conversations on Sunday Morning Lyricality as we celebrate Louise K. Waakaa’igan, an Anishanabekwe poet enrolled at La Courte Ordielles Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Her poems courageously face hard truths, revealing the sorrows of complicated families and historical trauma. Her poems bring beauty to the world through their painstaking attention to the craft of writing, with empathy and kindness. 

This Is Where brings to us a gift in this naming and acceptance of contradiction. Aren’t we all searching for wholeness in a fragmented, polarized world? By holding the broken and the healing, the miraculous and the pitiful tenderly together, by facing ambiguities and contradictions, This Is Where shows us that while there are no shortcuts to healing and reconciliation, and although the work is hard, Love is possible. 

About Paige Riehl

In this conversation, Lyricality’s “Read Poetry 2019” featured poet Paige Riehl will read “Her Gauwin” by Louise K. Waakaa’igan, and then offer in response her poem “The Dreaming Woman.” 

On her website, Paige Riehl says she is “a poet, mostly, prose writer occasionally, college writing and literature professor nine months out of the year, and as frequently as possible, a traveler.” She lives in St. Paul with her family. Her first full-length poetry collection, Suspension, launched our “Read Poetry” program in 2019. Her poems challenge us to suspend certainty, to probe the liminal spaces of life, and to wonder how language bridges our divisions AND causes divisions.

In matters of love, her poem “Apophasis” seems to be inferring, we might detect the elemental nature of a thing only if, instead of looking at it straight on, we make use of peripheral vision, give it the sideways glance of poetry. In her poem “Apophosis,” she writes:  “ the way the birds come just / close enough but not exactly to / your outstretched hand, and simply wait / for you to drop the bread.A gift Suspension brings to us is the courage to be patient, to wait suspended between hope and grief for the opportune time to embrace the desire of our heart, to discern when to let go. Suspension shows us that to live consciously is to live with the uncertainty of unanswered questions, allowing life to unfold. THIS IS WHERE we are; in suspension. And here, life is real and true.


“Her Gauwiin” appears in This is Where by Louise K. Waakaa’igan (Willow Books, 2020). Willow Books is the award-winning division of AQUARIUS PRESS, www.WillowLit.net 

“The Dreaming Woman” appears in Suspension by Paige Riehl (Terrapin Books, 2018) and was originally published in The Adirondack Review.

Terrapin Books is small press specializing in poetry books, www.terrapinbooks.com

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“Read Poetry Central Minnesota 2021” and “An Evening with Louise K. Waakaa’igan” were made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central MN Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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