Thursday, July 1, 2010

Excerpts from an Hour with Author Julia Dinsmore

Her Twitter profile reads: I am a Grandma, Edu-Performace Artist, Author, Singer, Poet, Public Speaker, Humorist, and Story Teller. My talents are used to end homelessness and poverty.

After she commented on one of my recent blog entries, we exchanged a few notes and I learned that she was author of My Name is Child of God… Not “Those People”: A First Person Look at Poverty which I wrote about here here, sharing her Danny Glover-narrated poem, a centerpiece of the book.

A week later we were able to schedule a time for this interview which took place late morning on Saturday, June 24.

Ennyman: So what are you up to today?

Julia: I'm trying to get the hang of this Twitter stuff and trying to learn how to market my book. My publishers closed down shortly after my book was published! So I have this huge, huge, huge market, and it's hard to bring it to market to my audience when you don't have money.

E: Yes, that's what the publisher can help with. Who published your book?

Julia: Augsburg Fortress Press.

E: Oh really? In 1985 I went to a writers conference at Mankato and met with one of the editors there. I later could have gotten a job there but it was so minimal wage I couldn't afford it.

Julia: They took a big hit in this economy.

E: Yeah, a lot of publishers have. A lot of magazines have gone out of business, too.

Julia: It's the wild, wild West in the publishing world.

E: What's your background then? You started in Duluth or were you born somewhere else?

Julia: I was born in South Minneapolis.

E: In the Hennepin area?

Julia: In the Phillips neighborhood in the heart of the city. Phillips originally extended from Hiawatha to Nicollet Avenue before the freeway came through. My grandfather fought that freeway, too, along with his neighbors. Now Phillips extends from the freeway to Hiawatha from Franklin Avenue to Lake Street. It’s traditionally been an immigrant neighborhood and very low wealth monetarily. What about you?

E: So when you were living up here and when did you leave Duluth??

Julia: I left Duluth in 2005. I was here for 6 or 7 years.

E: Were you living in the Central Hillside then?

Julia: Mostly in the Central Hillside and then or a short time in was in the East End for a couple years

E: So which part of your life led you to write this book, My Name is Child of God… Not “Those People”?

Julia: Well, my whole life. Coming from the roots of generational poverty, I think my mother was the original welfare mother in Minnesota. So growing up poor and ending up following in my mother's footsteps.

E: And at one point you were homeless?

Julia: I've been homeless several times. As a matter of fact, I was getting ready to move into my van two years ago because I can't afford housing. I came out with my book and a CD to end homelessness called “Give Us Your Poor” which is a collaborative collection of 19 tracks with people experiencing homelessness and big famous names, and thought that I was going to be able to make enough money you know, once again making those bootstraps again to have them crash. Anyways, ended up, I was going to move into my van and a young man who I had mentored through college and through law school and then through his legal aid career, his parents heard that I was moving into my van and offered me a house to live in. Out in a wealthy suburban neighborhood… so it’s culture shock. I've been camping out in the living room for 2 years now, I thought it would be a few months but the waiting lists to get into subsidized housing are 7 to 10 years long. I became disabled in 2001, and have tried to be self employed, trying to lift myself out of poverty, like I have so many other times. But it hasn't happened yet.

E: Yeah it's easier said than done. So what are some of the things you've learned through your experience? How much of poverty is due to circumstances that seem temporary that go on, how much is due to just a lack of experience, or not understanding how the job market works?

Julia: What job market? The truth is there has never been enough jobs for every citizen in America.

Follow Julia Dinsmore on Twitter @nothosepeople

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

Job market???
Gee, you should have gone the whole Republican way and asked how much of poverty is just pure laziness.
I'm looking forward to the rest of this interview, though I have no confidence that it won't be selectively edited by the blog author.

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