My Mother Is Now EarthAn isolated northern farm provides the backdrop to a child’s searching, empathetic view of his conflicted mother during the last three years of her life.

Winner of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award for Memoir

Indian Country Today Interview

Star Tribune Review

Twin Cities Daily Planet Review

Minnesota Magazine

San Francisco Book Review

KUMD radio interview

Marshall Independent

Author Q & A

“. . . the memory of my mother came to me like a drifting scent in the breeze, swirling through the branches of a nearby cedar tree. I was drawn back [35 years] to the day I learned she had passed on. But that autumn day of 1973 did not grip me with deep sadness, the burden of never seeing her again. I was looking at that day from a new angle, a distant view that seemed to suggest a new, untold story. I was suddenly more than curious about who my mother truly was in this life and beyond.”

Uprooted from family and community in Milwaukee by her husband, a French and Irish construction worker with a drinking problem, Corrine Rolo struggles to raise their seven children on a remote farm near Big Falls, Minnesota. She longs to move back to Milwaukee, or to visit her relatives on the Bad River Ojibwe reservation, at one point threatening to leave the older kids behind and return to her home in the city.

Mark Anthony Rolo sifts through potent dreams and childhood memories to recreate a picture of his often conflicted mother during the last three years of her life. She told him a few warm stories of her life on the reservation, but she participated in the family’s casually derogatory banter about their Ojibwe heritage. She spent little time helping Rolo with his schoolwork, even as she wrote voluminous, detailed letters to her family in Milwaukee. She could treat her children harshly and yet also display the fiercest love.

With an innocent and sometimes brutal child’s view, Rolo recounts stories of a woman who battles poverty, depression, her abusive husband, and isolation through the long northern Minnesota winters, and of himself, her son, who struggles at school, wrestles with his Ojibwe identity, and copes with violence. But he also shows, with eloquence and compassion, his adult understanding of his mother’s fight to live with dignity, not despair.

Advance Praise:

“In My Mother Is Now Earth, Mark Anthony Rolo tracks his mother’s story in a heroic journey that takes us through the chambers of his childhood heart, the spirit of a family struggling to survive, and the long memory of ancient lands. I was mesmerized by this powerful narrative and could not look away until I came to the final gorgeous page. In tracing his elusive mother, Rolo not only restores dignity to her difficult life but somehow manages to restore dignity to us all.” Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer and Roofwalker

“Mark Anthony Rolo’s searing story, told without bitterness or victimhood, provides a riveting account of one of our nation’s dark histories.  This book had to be written and should be read.” Hilary Masters, professor of English, Carnegie Mellon University, author of Last Stands: Notes from Memory

Mark Anthony Rolo is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. He is currently an English faculty member at the White Earth Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen, MN. He is the former editor of The Circle newspaper and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief for Indian Country Today. He served as host and co-writer of the PBS film on Native Americans living in Los Angeles, “A Seat at the Drum” (2006). A collection of his plays, “What’s an Indian Woman to Do? and Other Plays” was pulished by UCLA American Indian Studies in 2010.

Available March 2012 from Borealis Books in cloth/hardcover and as an e-book.

Order on Amazon B&N Powells

Cloth: $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-87351-853-6
224 pp, 5.5×8.5

E-book: $14.99 ISBN: 978-0-87351-859-8