Eric Gansworth (Sˑha-weñ na-saeˀ), a writer and visual artist, is an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation. He was raised at the Tuscarora Nation, near Niagara Falls, New York. Currently, he is a Professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. In 2016, he was NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor at Colgate University. Gansworth's work uses synthesized verbal and visual images from the Haudenosaunee cosmology world, popular culture, and current indigenous life.
His novels, Indian Summers (Michigan State University Press 1998), Smoke Dancing (MSUP 2004), Mending Skins (University of Nebraska Press 2005), Extra Indians (Milkweed Editions, 2010), the Young Adult novels, If I Ever Get Out of Here and Give Me Some Truth (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, 2013, 2018), the collections of poems, Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon (MSUP 2000) and A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function, (Syracuse University Press 2008), and Breathing the Monster Alive, (Bright Hill) poems, personal essays, all feature paintings as integral parts of their narratives. His twelfth book is Apple (Skin to the Core), a Young Adult memoir-in-verse with images. It was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award. His first full length performance/play, Re-Creation Story, premiered as a staged reading in 2008’s Native Theater Festival at the Public Theater in New York City. Theater commissions, Home Fires and Reservation Roads, (a performance), premiered at the State University of New York at Oneonta, and Rabbit Dance, at Ohio Northern University, both in 2011. From the Western Door to the Lower West Side, (White Pine, 2009) is a volume of poems in response to images by social documentary photographer, Milton Rogovin. An anthology he edited, Sovereign Bones (Nation Books, 2007), focused on Creative Non-fiction from Indigenous writers and artists exploring the link between art and cultural survival.
Gansworth is also a visual artist. He has had solo exhibits at the Olean Public Library (1999), the Castellani Museum (2000), Bright Hill Center (2006), Canisius College (2008), Colgate University (2009), Westfield State University (2010), SUNY Oneonta’s Project Space Gallery (2011). A collaborative two-artist show, with sculptor Larry Plant, ran in 2005 at the Stuyvessant Gallery in Buffalo, NY. The Canisius College Office of Multicultural Affairs commissioned a painting, “From One Dance, Creation,” for display in the Bouwhuis Library. His trip-tych, “Cross-PolliNation,” is on long-term loan to the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York. Work has also appeared in group shows across New York State, including the Niagara Arts and Culture Center, the Iroquois Indian Museum, the Fanette-Goldman Gallery, Neto Hatinakwe Ohnkwehowe, CEPA Gallery and the World University Games, the Castellani Museum, Niagara County Community College Gallery, Adams Art Gallery, Hartwick College, and SUNY Oneonta. Several paintings, analysis and biographical materials are featured in the scholarly texts, Iroquois Art, Power, and History (University of Oklahoma Press) and As Long as the Grass Shall Grow and Rivers Flow (Harcourt Brace).
Periodical publication: The Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, Third Coast, POETRY, Poetry Foundation, Blueline, Stone Canoe, Cold Mountain Review, Many Mountains Moving, Poetry International, FICTION, Sentence, New York Quarterly, Superstition Review, Provincetown Arts, Short Story, Yellow Medicine Review, Shenandoah, The Cream City Review, Wasafiri, Slipstream, American Indian Culture and Research Journal and American Indian Quarterly.
Anthologies: When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (Norton); Tending the Fire (University of New Mexico Press); Ancestor Approved (Heartdrum--HarperCollins); The Poetry of Capital (University of Wisconsin Press); 100 Reasons to Love Reading (Scholastic); Growing Up Native American (Morrow); Blue Dawn, Red Earth (Doubleday); American Tensions (New Village Press); Fresh Ink (Crown); Ownership (Imagination & Place Press); A Usable Past (University of Bordeaux Press, France); Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions (Bright Hill); The Second Word Thursdays Anthology (Bright Hill); Stories for Winter Nights (White Pine); Fishing for Chickens (Persea); Genocide of the Mind (The Nation Books); Eating Fire, Tasting Blood (Thunder’s Mouth); Children of the Dragonfly (University of Arizona Press) and Nothing but the Truth: An Anthology of Native American Literature(Prentice Hall).
Gansworth was an invited speaker at the National Book Festival in 2013 and at the Library of Congress in 2016. Extra Indians was the recipient of an American Book Award in 2011, A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function was voted to the number 3 position on the National Book Critics Circle “Good Reads” List in the Poetry Category for Spring 2008, and Mending Skins won a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Award in 2006. Extra Indians was also selected for an NEH Community Reads program, through the College of Menominee Nation.
Gansworth wrote the entry for American Indian Literature in the Encyclopedia of New York State. He is a member of the Wordcraft Circle, the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Fiction Writers and has received Writer-in-Residence awards from The Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, just buffalo literary center, inc. as well as at his home institution, Canisius College. He was also awarded an Artist’s Residency at the Seaside Institute, in Seaside, Florida and at the Arne Nixon Center for Children’s Literature at Fresno State University. He has been awarded Individual Artist’s Grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. He has delivered keynotes at the Native American Literature Symposium. In 2020, he was a keynote presenter for the NCTE/ALAN annual conference.
Gansworth served 11 years on the Board of Directors of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and has served on panels for the New York State Council on the Arts Literature Panel, and on the Artists Advisory Committee for the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Administration for Native Americans. He was an artist selected for the Herd About Buffalo Project. In 2017, he was selected for inclusion in the public arts project, LIT CITY. This multi-organization effort includes streetlight banners of 15 writers, celebrating Buffalo’s Literary Legacy, along a section of Washington Street designated as Buffalo’s Literary Corridor. An additional component features the names of these writers sandblasted into the public park that shares space with the Central Public Library, and a short performance video.
Institutional text adoptions:
Arizona State University; Buffalo State College; Canisius College; Canisius High School; Colgate University; College of Menominee Nation; the College of St. Catherine; College of St. Rose; Hamilton College; Hartwick College; Jamestown Community College; Kenyon College; Institute of American Indian Arts; Lafayette High School; Macalester College; McMaster University; Michigan State University; Minnesota State University Mankato; North Country Community College; Onondaga Nation School; Purdue University; St. Thomas University; State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia; SUNY Cortland; SUNY Oneonta; SUNY Potsdam; SUNY New Paltz; Syracuse University, University of Minnesota Morris; University of Wisconsin Madison; Washington State University; Western Washington University; University of Denver; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Westfield State University; University of Kent, Canterbury; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Yale University.