In person: J.P. White and Gwen Nell Westerman at Milkweed Books

Central Time

Milkweed Books
1011 Washington Ave S
Suite 107
Minneapolis, MN 55415
United States


(612) 215-2540

Join us as we welcome local poets J.P. White and Gwen Nell Westerman for a reading from their latest collections, A Tree Becomes a Room and Songs, Blood Deep. J.P. and Gwen will also hold time for audience questions, as well as a book signing after the reading.

Please join us at Milkweed Books, our brick-and-mortar independent bookstore on the first floor of Open Book, at 7 p.m. for an unforgettable night of poetry!


About the books

The poems in A Tree Becomes a Room are located in many places including Italy, Russia, Hawaii, Florida, France, Texas, Minnesota and elsewhere. These different places are roots of the same tree that stands in the midst of a threatened and still beautiful earth. Through multiple locations, White explores how we might continue to live inside this vanishing with all the tools that have always been at our disposal: wonder, grief, hope and joy. The poems are meditations on this perilous moment in time and the demands that this moment places on anyone to stay curious and grateful even in the midst of our inability to change course or self-correct with a view toward the greater interconnectedness of all things.

With touches of humor and the occasional sharp cultural criticism, the voice that emerges from Songs, Blood Deep is that of a Dakota woman rooted in her world and her words. In this moving collection, Westerman reflects on history and family from a unique perspective, one that connects the painful past and the hard-fought future of her Dakota homeland. Grounded in vivid story and memory, Westerman draws on both English and the Dakota language to celebrate the long journey along sunflower-lined highways of the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains that returns her to a place filled with “more than history.” An intense homage to the power of place, this book tells a masterful story of cultural survival and the power of language


About the readers

J.P. White has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews, and poetry in over a hundred publications. A highly acclaimed, award-winning writer, White pushes beyond the boundaries of the lyric/narrative tradition to let more of the flux and wonder of the human condition rush in. In the last 30 years, he has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews and poetry in over 100 publications including The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, and Poetry (Chicago). He is a graduate of New College in Sarasota, Florida, Colorado State University and Vermont College.

Gwen Nell Westerman’s poems, essays, and short stories appear in numerous publications, including the Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (2020); the Minnesota issue of Quiltfolk (January 2020); and New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018). Her poetry collection Follow the Blackbirds (2013) was published by Michigan State University Press. Gwen Westerman’s roots are deep in the landscape of the tall grass prairie, and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, her father’s people, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, her mother’s people. She is the co-author of Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota which won a 2013 Minnesota Book Award, and a 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award. Her latest book of poetry, Songs, Blood Deep, is a finalist for the 2024 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.