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A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  2,840 ratings  ·  462 reviews
A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott.

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott o
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 26th 2019 by Doubleday Canada
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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
A glimpse into the culture of the Native Tribes. Frankly, I've always been fascinated with how different pathways would the history have taken, had all those cultures not been wiped but the European barbarians?

Of course, her info on the Ukrainian 'holodomor' isn't correct. It's a best kept secret that during that period hunger took place in many more regions than just Ukraine. In many Russian regions it was even more prolonged and devastating. It's just not publicized in order to make it seem li
Cristina Monica
I try to read both fiction and non-fiction books with a variety of themes – love, friendship, family, coming of age, racism, discrimination, abuse – but I think this is the first time I read essays from an indigenous author. I know she'd rather I didn't label her but I needed to mention this because I try to read everything and anything and yet it’s very rare I encounter written works from native peoples. This has to change for me. I need to actively seek them out, because reading about poverty, ...more
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Wow, do I ever live in a Canadian bubble, well just a bubble in general. I am just now reaching out of that bubble to learn more about the world around me by reading more non-fiction. Well, Canadian Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott has opened my eyes to a few subject matters with her powerful, thoughtful, honest and moving collection of essays.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is my first experience reading a collection of essays from an author, and I had no idea how much I would find essays a
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the style of memoir essay, award winning and bestselling Canadian author Alicia Elliott shares her riveting debut collection: “A Mind Spread Out On The Ground” (2020). Ms. Elliott has received acclaim for her voice in North American and Indigenous Literature, her articles and short stories have been featured in several notable publications including the Washington Post, she lives in Brantford, Ontario.

The Haudenosaunee indigenous Confederacy extends from a Syracuse N.Y. region into Aboriginal
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've heard one person translate a Mohawk word for depression to, roughly, “his mind fell to the ground”. I ask my sister about this. She's been studying Mohawk for the past three years and is practically fluent. She's raising her daughter to be the same. They're the first members of our family to speak the language since a priest beat it out of our paternal grandfather a handful of decades ago.

“Wake'nikonhra'kwenhtará:'on,” she says. “It's not quite 'fell to the ground'. It's more like, 'His
Dina Bucchia
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's hard not to just write, "Holy s**t! This is an incredible book." So I guess I did write that. And I stand by it. What a stunning collection. Alicia Elliott is a master of the essay form and such a deeply intelligent writer. This book is beautiful, haunting, funny, emotionally astute, and captivating with every turn of the page. I will come back to these essays often. What a gd work of art.
First of all, if I could give this book more than 5 stars I would.
Secondly, I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I thank the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this gem and give a review.

I must admit in the essence of being truthful, that I, like author Alicia Elliott, am a member of the Haudenosaunee Nation. I am Oneida on my paternal side. Therefore, I took this book in a different way than many other readers may, because I can relate to it on so many levels. I am also 1/2
This book is everything to me. I feel comforted - in my love, in my anger, in my identity..

Alicia Elliott is profoundly intelligent, and her way with words - the way she inventively weaves the personal with the political, her private memories with social commentary regarding Indigenous issues - is just beautiful. The essays in this book cover so many topics. From racism, colonialism, residential schools, intergenerational trauma, violence, mental health, sexual abuse, the law, food insecurity an
chantel nouseforaname
An intense book! Super intense. So many gems and real points. Review to come.

--- update: review -/----

You know what’s crazy... that publishers didn’t think it was important in the past to publish diverse voices telling their own stories from way back when. Now that white people are going out of style and we ain’t trying to really hear none of their morally bankrupt and dry stories, literary diversity is becoming the in-thing. Okay, I’m being a little cheeky, but what I mean is that on one hand
Jaime Morse
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I not only read the book but was able to read most of it before I heard her speak at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival. I appreciate the care that she took in how she presented her aspects of personal memoir with facts about Indigenous experiences in Canada. For me it put in to perspective a connected approach to Indigenous living in Canada.

For some reason it was the third book I had read in two weeks about bipolar/schizophrenic mental health issues and though I am not close to anyone in my own fami
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
This essay collection defies words. It is brilliant and should be required reading for all.
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Review to come.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Many things came back to me while reading A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott, things I hadn’t even realized I’d half repressed (childhood summers full of lice) and made me realize what I’d taken for granted (a mother masterfully skilled at banishing them from my scalp.)
These essays had me rejoicing in solidarity. Here was someone who shared many of my thoughts, beliefs and even my experiences which I suppose isn’t surprising because Elliott is correct: the effects of colonialism
Geraldine (geraldinereads)
This is now one of my favorite non-fiction books I've ever read! Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott makes her debut with a collection of essays that covers everything you can think of. How colonialism has effected/continues to effect Indigenous people to poverty, mental illness, sexual violence, racism, photography, trauma, and much more.

This book will spark all of the important discussions that need to be shared with family, friends, strangers, EVERYONE.

I read this from my library, but I will def
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Alicia Elliot is fed up. In her
brilliant essays, she pulls no punches in her interrogation of colonialism. I listened to the audiobook which was a humbling experience. I will re-read (and I rarely re-read books) a paper copy as as some of her essays are interactive, requiring the reader to examine their biases and reflect on their role in perpetuating the status quo.

There are also essays that address mental illness in general and in her own family, including depression. “I ask my sister about t
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
There was so much buzz about this book: it's a must-read, I couldn't put it down, how can I even describe it? Indeed, Alicia Elliott has created a small masterpiece in 'A Mind Spread Out on the Ground'. I would call it a must-read but would encourage the reader to go slow and savour the work.

Elliott writes about her childhood, teen years, and young adult life with a bold confidence. Her clear, strong prose gives readers an opportunity to see the ramifications of the violent genocide perpetrated
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sonya by: Charlotte Prong
Shelves: favorites
An emphatic 5* rating. Deeply moving, exceptionally well-written essays questioning the ever-present effects of colonialism on Indigenous peoples in North America and how colonialism / capitalism collide with / disrupt art, culture, mental health, a sense of belonging. I borrowed this from the library but it's now on my to-buy and favourites lists.
Ian Ridewood
Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honestly one of the best essay collections I have ever read. It's powerful, timely, and incisive; expect its well-deserved awards to accumulate without hesitation.
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is one of the most striking books I have ever read. There is so much honesty here, and so much raw power in that honesty. Alicia Elliot's command of words is just stunning - the heart and vulnerability in her deeply personal stories and reflections combined with her unflinching delivery of illusion-shattering truths about society as a whole was enough to leave me speechless. Were some of those truths about Canada hard for me to accept? Absolutely. Which is exactly why this was so neces ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Not an easy read by any measure. Alicia Elliott uses essays to present her history and thus is able to expand on themes and provide them with extraordinary depth. As she is a superb writer, her scholarship is paramount, her grasp of science and the connections she makes are remarkable. The density of her prose is one of the beauties of this book, her honesty and generosity, additional benefits.

But it is the truly eyepopping revelations that make a reader, particularly one from the United States
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
phew. alicia elliott can WRITE. AN. ESSAY. this was top notch.

Corinne Wasilewski
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Alicia Elliott is a survivor. She has faced more challenges in her young life than many of us face in a lifetime. These challenges include but are not limited to: poverty; homelessness; family violence; teen-age pregnancy; depression and a parent with major mental health problems. I want to start off my review by recognizing her strength and resilience.

A Mind Spread out on the Ground is a collection of essays. These essays are excruciatingly personal in parts, but written with a surprising deta
Sarah Jagoo
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
Books of essays are by far my favourite type of book. There's something so enlightening about reading how individual experiences shaped not only people's lives, but their understanding about the world around them in relation to others. Alicia Elliott is by far the best author of essays that I have ever come across. Somehow, she manages to take a subject and open it up, dissect it, and introduce me to things I would never have even considered. I don't think I have the words right now to express h ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary, powerful, incredible must-read gem and gift of a book. Published in March 2019, this book of essays on mental health and Canada and health and family and so much more is so so needed and I wish I could gift everyone I know a copy of this book! I’m also surprised to say that this is the first book I’ve read by an Indigenous female author from Turtle Island. I read this from the library but may have to buy a copy because I have notes from nearly every page of the book. A ...more
Kara Babcock
You ever read a book and have an epiphany, only for that epiphany to evaporate before you get around to writing it down or telling others? I think that happened here—I think one of Alicia Elliott’s essays in A Mind Spread Out on the Ground inspired an epiphany regarding my relationship with poetry … yet I have totally forgotten the thought now! I even paged through the book again to see if I could recover it. Nope. Maybe one day it will return.

I was drawn to this book by Elliott’s social media p
"'Wake'nikonhra'kwenhtará:'on,' she says... 'His mind is...' she moves her hands around, palms down, as if doing a large, messy finger painting. 'Literally stretched or sprawled out on the ground. It's all over." [On the Mohawk phrase for depression]
From A MIND SPREAD OUT ON THE GROUND by Alicia Elliott, 2020.

This collection of essays was staggering in it's breadth, and all together too much to describe in one post. Essays often employ the concept of micro/macro, the personal relating to the sy
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A powerful and personal - in a ‘the personal is political’ sense - essay collection. Elliot writes about her own experiences with poverty, teen pregnancy, indigenous identity and representation, mental illness, and sexual violence, among other things. She’s witty, and she doesn’t pull her punches. Not a comfortable read, and it’s all the better for it. Well worth reading!
Scott Neigh
A collection of essays by Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott. I've encountered her writing online from time to time in the last few years and thought highly of it every time, so I was very excited to hear she had a debut collection coming out. I was not disappointed. These essays are strongly grounded in memoir, deftly using that resource (and others) to peel back layers of the world. I'm just writing a chapter myself at the moment that is in part thinking through how careful listening to people ta ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed anecdotes about the author's life and hearing about the Canadian context in current nonfiction. However, I didn't find this book or the author's thoughts groundbreaking, and I found them instead repeatedly problematic. I think she is at the beginning or middle stages of thoughts on these topics. I wouldn't mind this but for how influenced people seem to be by a book that falls victim to logical fallacies, some bad science, and cognitive distortions. It is not well reasoned in many part ...more
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“Racism, for many people, seems to occupy space in very much the same way as dark matter: it forms the skeleton of our world, yet remains ultimately invisible, undetectable. This is convenient. If nothing is racist, then nothing needs to be done to address it.” 10 likes
“It’s hard to let go of control, to stop trying to be the architect of not only our own lives but the lives of the people around us as we single-mindedly work towards our own flawed constructions of "perfection." Once we do, though, we might actually be able to recognize the beauty we’ve missed.” 3 likes
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