Interview with Humor Writer and Author Tiffany Midge
I first saw Tiffany’s Midge’s work on McSweeney’s, in a piece that we’ll talk about later in the interview. Her new book “Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s” is a compelling collection of life, politics, and identity as a Native woman in today’s America. With an artful mix of sly humor, social commentary and meditations on love and loss, she weaves short, stand-alone musings into a powerful — and powerfully funny — memoir. A citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, she’s the former humor columnist for Indian Country Today and teaches multi-genre humor writing that elevates awareness of social justice issues. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Offing, Waxwing, Moss, and World Literature Today.
Take it away, Tiffany!
Tell us about your writing backstory — what was your entry point? When in your life did you start identifying as a writer?
When my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Williams told me that she hoped to read a book by Tiffany Midge one day. That same year I won the class “Pen & Paper” award, which I assume was for both writing and drawing. I believe what impressed Mrs. Williams so much was that the assignment for social studies was a research report on different states. I wrote mine on the state of New Hampshire as if it were science fiction– meaning that I covered the history, politics, industries, population, and landmarks as a series of AP bulletins, nightly news features, and eye witness coverage as if the state completely disappeared and all that was left was a big gaping hole. I also drew maps, but not satellite footage because I didn’t know what those were yet.
You work in a lot of different formats — poetry, prose, humor, etc. Do you tend to work in all at once? Or go through periods where you JUST want to write humor, or JUST want to write poetry?
I suspect that it depends upon which project I’ve got boiling on the burner at the time. It has been a few years — maybe a decade even! — since I tried writing something that wasn’t funny, ironic, weird, or tongue in cheek. I admire all kinds of writing, and love to read all of the genres, but for my own projects, I prefer to keep things casual. And by casual, I mean “light” and…