Terese Marie Mailhot in conversation with Angela Flournoy
March 6, 2018, 7:00 PM
"Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot is an astounding memoir in essays. Here is a wound. Here is need, naked and unapologetic. Here is a mountain woman, towering in words great and small... What Mailhot has accomplished in this exquisite book is brilliance both raw and refined." --Roxane Gay, author of Hunger
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father--an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist--who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn't exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.
TERESE MARIE MAILHOT graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an M.F.A. in fiction. Mailhot's work has appeared in The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Times, Carve Magazine, The Offing, The Toast, Yellow Medicine Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of several fellowships--SWAIA Discovery Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Writing by Writers Fellowship, and the Elk Writer's Workshop Fellowship--she was recently named the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University and resides in West Lafayette, Indiana.