Kim Shuck

sidewalk ndn

Sidewalk Ndn (FootHills Publishing, 2014)

What are some of your favorite chapbooks?

She) Poems by Carol Lee Sanchez, Incantations & Rites by devorah major and Opal Palmer Adisa, and Qwo-li Driskill’s Burning Upward Flight are one, two and three on the pile just at the moment.

What might these favorite or influential chapbooks suggest about you and your writing?

Oh, those books probably show the way that I like words to be treated with grace and stubborn hopefulness.

What’s your chapbook about?

Sidewalk Ndn is about my experience of being a mixed urban Native woman, though I’m not sure that any book can avoid a bit of autobiography.

What’s the oldest piece in your chapbook? Or can you name one poem that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?

There are a few poems that came together and suggested a chapbook: “Part Time City,” “What Is Human about Having Hands, Living on the Edges of Water,” and one other that didn’t end up in the collection.

How did you decide on arrangement and title of your chapbook? What was your titling process for individual poems in the chapbook?

I’d wanted to do a project called Sidewalk Ndn for a very long time, and so the title probably came first. In terms of the poems themselves, I sometimes use the first line as a title or another line in the poem. Titles are a bit of a problem for me. I think that the arrangement came mostly from Susan Deer Cloud, the editor of the series.

Did you submit your chapbook to contests, open reading periods, or both?

The press found me for this one. I’d had a few poems published in anthologies that they’d put together and they thought that a chapbook would be good.

To what degree did you collaborate on the cover image and design of your chapbook?

I had the cover photo taken by the amazing Catherine Herrera. The rest of the cover design was theirs, but I did pick cover stock from offered options. I had more input into this than into the cover of my first full length collection.

What have you done to promote and publicize your chapbook?

I’ve been doing readings all over the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve posted its availability on various social networking sites. It’s a limited run and has been selling pretty well.

What are you working on now?

Just now I’m working on a novel-length prose piece.

What is your writing practice or process?

I just make sure that I write every day; if I find that I can’t, a walk will usually shake something out.

What kinds of writing (comics, dictionaries, magazines, novels, etc.) that aren’t poetry help you to write poetry?

I like natural history texts… non-fiction mostly.

Who do you most hope will read your chapbook? (either an individual or a particular group of people)?

Much of my work is intended to validate a very specific experience, that of urban Native people; if I had to pick only one group to read it, that would be the group.

Does your family read your chapbook? Or are they waiting for you to write a novel?

My family has read everything of mine that’s been published, bit of a mixed blessing really.

Do you have experience with winning over new readers to poetry with either your own or others’ poems? If so, what’s that been like? Do you think a new poetry reader would have a different reaction to the chapbook format than an established reader?

I’m told that I have won people over, and it’s very flattering, obviously. I’m not sure why that is or what it means. I do think that a chapbook is more approachable than a full-length book of poems.


Kim Shuck is a poet and fine artist with an MFA in textiles from San Francisco State University. Her first full-length manuscript won the 2005 Diane Decorah award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Her first prose book came out in 2013. Her latest published works are Clouds Running In, a full-length book of poems and Sidewalk Ndn a chapbook.


This River

Runs west and
Counter to every story I drank
Deep in those small doll days
Strange, heavy with collective
Unconscious with all of those
West running, improbable relations spending
Lavish hands worth of emotion on this imagined
West in this city which also
Runs west into an ocean that I
Own no stories for, borrowed ocean full of
Marvels fed by these long men who collect different
Water who polish stones that won’t tell me the
Future in any language I know


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