Sovereign Traces

Gordon Henry, Jr. and Elizabeth LaPensée join us to discuss their comics project Sovereign Traces. In two volumes, the Sovereign Traces series brings contemporary Indigenous literature into form with imaginative illustrations.
Now into two volumes, the Sovereign Traces series merges works of contemporary North American Indian literature with imaginative illustrations by US and Canadian artists. As comics, the Sovereign Traces volumes provide an extended means for audiences to engage with works of Native Literature, including fiction, poetry, and memoir in a variety of exciting forms. The first volume, Not (Just) (An)Other includes text adapted from writers such as Gordon Henry Jr., Gerald Vizenor, Joy Harjo, and Louise Erdrich illustrated by such artists as Delishia Williams, GMB Chomichuk, and Nicholas Burns. The second volume, Relational Constellation, extends the focus of the series to include additional original works that provide a unique opportunity for audiences to hear from myriad Indigenous voices on the meaning of love.

Gordon Henry, Jr. is an Anishinaabe poet, fiction writer, and essayist, and an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation. He is the author of the poetry collection The Failure of Certain Charms (2008) and the novel The Light People (1994), which was the recipient of the American Book Award. A professor of literature and creative writing at Michigan State University, Gordon also serves as editor of MSU Press’s American Indian Studies Series.

Elizabeth LaPensée is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher. She is Anishinaabe from Baawaating with relations at Bay Mills Indian Community and Métis. She is Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University, and has contributed to comics as an illustrator, writer, and editor, including Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection and Deer Woman: An Anthology.

The first two volumes of Sovereign Traces are available at and other fine booksellers. You can find Gordon and Elizabeth on Instagram @drpinepoint and @elizabethlapensee. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on Twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.
The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to Daniel Trego, Madiha Ghous, Kylene Cave, and the team at MSU Press for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 

Michigan State University occupies the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi people. The University resides on Land ceded in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.
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