Nokaa-Zagaakwa’on Gaawiin Zagaakwasiiaag: Tender Buttons Unfastened

Margaret Noodin


This essay is a digression Gertrude Stein might have enjoyed if an Anishinaabe poet had joined her Saturday salons in Paris with Pablo Picasso, Ezra Pound, Mildred Aldrich and others who practiced modern ways of fastening and unfastening words and images. The act of translating Stein’s English into Anishinaabemowin serves as a method of linguistic and artistic analysis. The Anishinaabemowin lines offered here are experimental word play in response to the spirit of her work, not definitive equivalents. Stein evokes the senses in writing. She centers identity around angles and dimensions not often included in verse. She offers social commentary in the form of images that can benefit from a range of diverse readings. Anishinaabe-based explorations of the way she combines sensation, location, and history are not lessons in grammar or explication; they are ventures into a territory co-created by Stein’s imagination and the over-arching aesthetics of Anishinaabemowin. The essay is an example of nindinendaamin izhitwaawinan epiichi gaawiin zagaakwa’igaadesinoog gaye geyabi zagaakwa’igaazoyaang, unbuttoning and rebuttoning ideas across traditions.


Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Cubism, Modernist Poetry

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Copyright (c) 2018 Margaret Noodin