Arrell Gibson Lifetime
Achievement Award Winners
Rennard Strickland began writing because he hated law school. That’s one of the revelations tonight’s honoree shared in a 2009 interview conducted for the University of Oklahoma’s Sooner Magazine:
“At the end of my senior year, my absolutely favorite professor told me, ‘What you need to do is go into legal education, and you can change the way it is taught.
“Legal education has changed since then,” [Strickland] says. When he began teaching law, “women and minorities were told to write about ‘mainstream law,’ not about minorities or women or even social and cultural issues. That non-traditional scholarship, we were told, was for ‘after tenure.’ I decided I didn’t care to have my academic menu selected by others.”
No one could accuse Dr. Strickland of following an established menu. Instead, he has followed his bliss in a variety of directions and has blazed new trails. He is a pioneer of Native American legal scholarship, and has written or edited more than thirty-five books on Indian law, history, and culture. He served as editor-in-chief of Felix S. Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law, considered the “Bible of Indian Law.” He has also pursued his interest in art and film, writing articles, essays, books, and museum/conference presentations about these subjects, as well.
Of Osage and Cherokee heritage, Strickland was born in 1940 in Muskogee. After graduating from Northeastern State College in Tahlequah, he earned a M.A. from the University of Arkansas, and a J.D. and a S.J.D. from the University of Virginia. As the Sooner Magazine article notes, after law school, “He had a nomadic career, teaching or serving as dean at nearly twenty universities. But he has always come back to Oklahoma.” He has taught at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma City University, and the University of Oklahoma, where he was founding director of the American Indian Law and Policy Center in the 1990s. Today, he is OU Visiting Professor and Scholar in Residence at the renamed Center for the Study of American Indian Law and Policy.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Strickland served on the Editorial Board for the Newcomers to a New Land series of books, part of the Oklahoma Image project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in preparation for the state’s Seventy-fifth Anniversary Diamond Jubilee. The series was a 10–volume set that explored the different ethnic groups that played a major role in the development of the state.
Strickland’s own The Indians in Oklahoma remains one of the most popular titles of this series, and it is the author’s most recognizable work to the general public. Of his forty-plus books, it may also be the most telling of the author’s approach to history. The book does not follow mainstream historiography. Instead, Strickland looks outside of the box, integrating the arts to tell a more complete, poetic story. Just what we would expect from a man who has carved his own path.
Educator, historian, author, and poet—Alvin O. Turner is the ultimate storyteller. It has been said that Turner’s research and writing is based upon a holistic vision of the world. For him, it is not enough just to relay the facts regarding a period or incident in history. He searches for and provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the people, places, and events that have shaped our society.
Born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, on July 28, 1943, Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Central State University (UCO), a master’s degree in history from Central Missouri State University, and his PhD in history from Oklahoma State University. He held a variety of teaching and university administrative positions during his career, including dean for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and professor of history at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, from 1997 until his retirement in 2006.
The author of six history books and numerous articles, Turner’s scholarship has focused primarily on regional history. His work has proved to be a valuable asset to researchers, historians, and general audiences who want a better insight into Oklahoma’s story. Turner has focused much of his research on what he calls “non-elite memoirs.” These are stories of ordinary Oklahomans who have published their autobiographies or memoirs. His current work involves the annotations of more than 250 of these memoirs.
Turner’s poetry also focuses on regional themes. In Waiting for the Rain, the poems achieve his original intent of “preserving memories of people’s responses to hard times.” Those hard times included the dust bowl and depression. Re-Membering Journeys is also a reflection of hard times. For Turner, however, the “journeys they represent … are the products of an increasingly conscious process of re-membering, taking old memories apart and putting them back together again.” In Hanging Men, he provides a poetic approach to the history of Ada, Oklahoma, from the town’s birth to the modern day. Particular emphasis is placed on the events surrounding the hanging of four men in 1909.
Turner served as co-author with Bob Blackburn on First Family: A Centennial History of the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. His compilation of writer Caroline Henderson’s work for Letters from the Dust Bowl was a finalist for the non-fiction award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book, and for the Centennial Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma Initiative. His latest book L.W. Marks: A Baptist Progressive in Missouri & Oklahoma, 1862–1943 was published in 2009 by Mongrel Empire Press.
Turner and his wife, Carmelita, make their home in Norman, Oklahoma.
“I suppose I’d categorize my books as ‘slice of life’ novels. What happens to my characters seems to me to be the result of living in the chaos of the real world.” From “Interview with Billie Letts,” ReadersRead.com—July 2004
The protagonists in the novels of Billie Letts begin their journeys alone in the world: a pregnant teenage girl abandoned in a WalMart parking lot (Where the Heart Is); a wounded Vietnam War veteran who never leaves the small Oklahoma café he owns (The Honk and Holler Opening Soon); an unloved California plastic surgeon who travels to Oklahoma to find his biological mother (Shoot the Moon); two children, who must choose between becoming wards of the state or taking to the road to find their absent father (Made in the U.S.A.).
How these characters grow, what they endure along the way, and where they end up by the time the reader has closed the book, relate a strong central theme of Billie’s work—that home, love, family, and a place to belong is possible “in the chaos of the real world.”
The two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner was born Billie Gibson in Tulsa in 1938 (a “child of children” she has said). When she shocked her fourth grade teacher with a book review on Erskin Caldwell’s God’s Little Acre, she realized the power of writing. “If I had the power to agitate a language-arts teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by simply writing about someone else’s writing, how much power might I have in telling my own stories?” At the age of nine, the idea of becoming a writer took hold.
Before she would find success as an author, she found success as a teacher, wife, and mother. She met Dennis Letts at Northeastern State University, and married him in 1958. The couple moved to Durant, home of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, after Dennis finished graduate school at the University of Illinois. “We planned to be there a year, maybe two. We stayed almost 30,” she said.
Billie continued her own education while raising a family, earning a Master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1974. She eventually joined the faculty at Southeastern along with her husband. When the time to contemplate retirement arrived, Billie began to focus more attention on her writing. Like one of her characters, she began a new journey that would take her to a place she could never have imagined.
Her books are international bestsellers. Where the Heart Is, the Walker Percy Award winner and Oprah Book Club selection, has alone been translated into more than a dozen languages. It’s a good bet that if someone on the other side of the world is reading a book about a place called Oklahoma, if it’s not The Grapes of Wrath, it’s probably a Billie Letts novel.
Award-winning young adult author Anna Myers loves to tell stories,
so it is only fitting that we should give her the first words:
“I was born in the west Texas town of White Face. My father
was an oil field worker who had been transferred to Texas from Oklahoma.
I had five older brothers and sisters, and when I was seven years old,
my little brother was born. I was only a few months old when the family
moved back to Oklahoma, but being born in Texas had a big impact on
my life. Because I was the only one in the family born outside of Oklahoma,
one of my uncles always called me ‘Tex.’ My oldest brother
used to tell me that the family found me in a tumbleweed. I was fairly
certain he was only teasing, but when I heard the song, ‘Tumbling
Tumbleweed,’ I felt a little thrill.
“Stories were always important in our family. My grandmother,
my mother, my father, and my aunts, and my uncles were all storytellers.
I never tired of hearing the stories about what went on in the Oklahoma
hills where my parents grew up as neighbors. My older brothers and
sisters loved books. Going to the library on Saturdays was a big event
at our house, and my older siblings frequently read aloud to me. It
was that love of stories, I believe, that made me decide early on that
I wanted to be a writer. “
Anna Myers is one of Oklahoma’s most beloved writers of youth
literature. She has written nineteen books, is a perennial finalist in
the Oklahoma Book Awards, and has received four Oklahoma Book Award medals
during her writing career, for Red Dirt Jessie, Graveyard Girl, Assassin,
and Spy. She has received many more awards and honors from across
Myers brings her stories into schools, and even hosts writing workshops
for young people. She also serves as a mentor for aspiring authors in
the state by serving as the regional advisor to Oklahoma’s Chapter
of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Let’s give Anna the final words, as well:
“All but two of my nineteen books are historical fiction. I
had a Sunday school teacher when I was a girl who used to say, ‘If
you don’t know where you have been, you can’t know where
you are going.’ I like to think my books help kids know where
we have been.”
“Oklahoma isn't what I write about;
it's the place I write from—my spiritual and emotional and geographical
center. It's where the voices reside. As a writer I always think of
America as my subject, and Oklahoma as the landscape where the stories
unfold.” —From “A Writer’s Source” by
Rilla Askew, Tulsa World, December 20, 2090
All of Rilla Askew’s books to date have been set in Oklahoma.
She was born in the Sans Bois Mountains in the southeastern corner, a
fifth generation descendant of southerners who settled in the Choctaw
Nation in the late 1800s. Her maternal grandfather was a sharecropper
who stayed on the land when the hard times came during the Great Depression,
and her paternal grandfather was a coal miner, a carpenter, merchant,
and one-time deputy sheriff. The daughter of a coon-hunting Southern
Baptist deacon and an independent-minded mom, Askew is the middle of
three sisters. She grew up in the oil company town of Bartlesville, where
she first encountered the complex forces of race and class that she continues
to explore in her fiction. She lived for several years in the Cherokee
capital of Tahlequah before relocating to Tulsa, where she graduated
from the University of Tulsa with a degree in theatre performance. In
1980 she moved to New York to pursue an acting career, but she soon turned
to writing fiction and went on to study creative writing at Brooklyn
College, where she received her MFA in 1989.
Her collection of stories Strange Business received the Oklahoma
Book Award in 1993. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of journals
and has been selected for Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. Her first
novel The Mercy Seat was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award
and received the Western Heritage Award and the Oklahoma Book Award in
1998. Her novel about the Tulsa Race Riot, Fire in Beulah, received
the American Book Award, the Myers Book Award, and was the Oklahoma Reads
Oklahoma selection for 2007. Askew's most recent novel Harpsong was
nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Prize and received the Oklahoma Book Award,
the Western Heritage Award, the Willa Cather Award from Women Writing
the West, and the Violet Crown Award from the Writers League of Texas.
She was the recipient of a 2009 Academy Award from the American Academy
of Arts and Letters.
Askew is married to actor Paul Austin, and they divide their time between
Oklahoma, where she currently serves as Artist in Residence at the University
of Central Oklahoma, and their home in upstate New York.
The spectacular photography of lifelong Oklahoma resident David G.
Fitzgerald has thrilled booklovers for more than three decades. Fitzgerald’s
published work began receiving national attention immediately when the
coffee-table book Oklahoma arrived in bookstores in 1979. This would
be the first of many books featuring his stunning photographic work.
Books that followed include Ozarks, Israel: Land of Promise, Mansion
Fare, Oklahoma II, Portrait of the Ozarks, Oklahoma
Monarch of the Plains, Cherokee, Chickasaw: Unconquered
Oklahoma 3, and Cherokee Trail of Tears.
Fitzgerald began his career as an artist and illustrator, and this
background continues to influence his photography, prompting one critic
to note, “the
painter’s eye remains much in evidence.”
In addition to his books, his work has been showcased in both state and
national exhibits. His photographic documentary of the Benedictine Monks
at St. Gregory’s Monastery in Shawnee, Oklahoma, is displayed there. “Oklahoma
II” is a permanent exhibit in the Donna Nigh Gallery at the University
of Central Oklahoma. His “Cherokee Nation: A Portrait of a People” exhibit
has appeared at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the
Natives of North America Museum in Zurich, Switzerland, and the Oklahoma
Historical Society. The “Cherokee Trail of Tears” exhibit
includes fifty photographs from his book Cherokee Trail of Tears. Fitzgerald’s
work also appears in the State Arts Collection and the University of
Oklahoma Museum of Art.
In 1999 Fitzgerald received the Oklahoma Book Award in the Design/Illustration
category for Bison: Monarch of the Plains. In 2003 his book Cherokee won the Benjamin Franklin Award and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Books
Awards. In 2007 he won a gold and bronze IPPY award at the Independent
Publishers Book Awards for Chickasaw: Unconquered and Unconquerable.
Fitzgerald was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in
2005, and has been named Oklahoma Photographer of the Year three times.
He is a lifetime member of the International Photography Hall of Fame.
Lovers of his work can rest assured there is more to come. Fitzgerald
has two new books available in May 2010: Chickasaw Renaissance and Building
One Fire. He is currently working on a book entitled Courthouse
Legends that features all seventy-seven county courthouses and four federal courthouses
Robert J. Conley, one of Oklahoma's most prolific authors, was
born in Cushing in 1940. His first novel, Back to Malachi, was
published in 1986. Since that time he has had more than seventy books
published, both fiction and non-fiction. His poems and short stories
have been published in numerous periodicals and anthologies over the
years, including some in Germany, France, Belgium, New Zealand and Yugoslavia.
His poems have been published in English, Cherokee, and Macedonian.
Conley is known for his accurate depiction of the old West, focusing
on the history, tradition, and folklore of the Cherokee people. A member
of the Western Writers of America, he has won Spur Awards for two of
his novels, Nickajack and The Dark Island, and for his
short story "Yellow Bird: An Imaginary Autobiography". The
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers named him Wordcrafter
of the Year in 1997. That same year, he was also inducted into the Oklahoma
Professional Writers Hall of Fame. Also in 2007, his book Cherokee
Medicine Man was part of the annual literary six-pack for the Oklahoma
Reads Oklahoma statewide centennial literary celebration.
He is an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
in Oklahoma. Conley has been assistant programs manager for the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma, director of Indian Studies at Bacone College, associate
professor of English at Morningside College, coordinator of Indian Culture
at Eastern Montana College, and instructor of English at Southwest Missouri
State University and at Northern Illinois University. He is the new Sequoyah
Distinguished Professor in Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University.
David Dary is a respected journalist and educator,
and a prize-winning historian of the Old West. He has written 15 books
and more than 200 articles for newspapers and magazines. He is emeritus
professor of journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He retired in
2000, after 11 years as head of what is now the Gaylord College of Journalism
and Mass Communication. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
Dary was born in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1934. After graduating
from Kansas State University, in 1956, and completing a stint in the
Army Reserve, a newly-wed Dary went to work in the radio business in
Texas. In the 1960s Dary worked in production and administration for
CBS and NBC News in Texas and Washington D.C. In 1967, while at NBC,
Dary wrote his first book, Radio News Handbook.
In the late 60s, after returning to Kansas for family reasons,
Dary helped plan and build a new NBC television station in Topeka. In
1969, he joined the faculty of the journalism school at the University
of Kansas, Lawrence. He earned his master’s degree in journalism
during his first year of teaching. Over the next 20 years at KU, Dary
rose to the rank of full professor.
His university teaching schedule allowed him time to write,
and in 1974, Dary completed The Buffalo Book. It became a Book-of-the-Month
selection. During this time he also began writing stories for the Kansas
City Star’s Sunday supplement—collected in True Tales
of the Old-Time Plains (1979). In 1981, Dary wrote Cowboy Culture:
A Saga of Five Centuries. Published by Alfred A. Knopf of New York, Cowboy
Culture won several awards and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
The books that followed—including Seeking Pleasure in the Old
West, Entrepreneurs of the Old West, The Santa Fe Trail:
Its History, Legends and Lore, and The Oregon Trail: An American
Saga—confirm his place as a leading authority on the American
West. Dary has received the Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Wrangler Award,
two Western Writers of America Spur Awards, the Westerners International
Best Nonfiction Book Award, and the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement
from the Western Writers of America.
In 1989, the University of Oklahoma recruited Dary to head
the School of Journalism, where he hired new faculty, rebuilt the program,
and elevated the journalism school to a freestanding college. In 2007,
he was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
Clifton Taulbert is probably best known for his
memoir Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored, about his experience
of growing up in the racially charged Mississippi Delta during the civil
rights movement. In his picture of tiny Glen Allen, Mississippi, Taulbert
focuses more on the bonds of family and community—“the front
porch people”—rather than the growing conflict between black
and white. The work is also a love song to the family that nourished
him and protected him from a world of hatred and segregation. Publishers
Weekly described the book as a “funny, sweet, touching memoir.” Once
Upon a Time When We Were Colored was made into a popular motion picture.
A second memoir, The Last Train North, continues
his experiences after high school, when he left Mississippi and traveled
to St. Louis for “the good life.” This book was nominated
for a Pulitzer Prize. Rounding out the trilogy is Watching our Crops
Come In, which covers Taulbert’s time in the United States
Air Force, and a revealing return trip to his Mississippi home town.
Other non-fiction books include, Eight Habits of the
Heart, The Journey Home: A Father’s Gift to His Son,
and Eight Habits of the Heart for Educators.
Taulbert has also written three children’s books: Little
Cliff and the Porch People, Little Cliff’s First Day of
School, and Little Cliff and the Cold Place.
He also is the founder and director of the Building Community
Institute located in Tulsa. A popular lecturer and motivator, he speaks
throughout the world on the need to create an environment branded by
respect, affirmation, and inclusion.
Bob Burke, an Oklahoma City attorney and historian, is tonight’s
recipient of the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award. He has written
or co-written sixty-five books about Oklahoma including Roscoe
Dunjee: Champion of Civil Rights, Kate Bernard:
Oklahoma’s Good Angel,
Oklahoma Government Today: How We Got There, and A
History of the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion.
A native of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, Burke received a bachelor’s degree
in journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a Juris Doctor degree
from Oklahoma City University. He served as a journalist and sportscaster
for local radio and television stations in Oklahoma before joining the
American Broadcasting Company in New York. He has held numerous positions
in state government including director of a large state agency during
Governor David Boren’s administration.
Burke has written on such diverse topics as aviation, baseball, and religion
in Oklahoma. He received the Oklahoma Book Award
for non-fiction in 1999 for From Here to Eternity: The Life of Wiley Post
and the Winnie Mae.
His biography on Bryce Harlow was a Pulitzer Prize nominee and won the
Oklahoma History Book of the Year Award from the Oklahoma Historical
Society. Burke currently serves on the governing boards of the Jim Thorpe
Association, Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence,
and the Oklahoma Heritage Association.
C.J. Cherryh is one of the most prolific and highly respected authors
in America. She has more than sixty books to her credit and is the winner
of numerous honors, including three prestigious Hugo Awards, given by
the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS).
Cherryh’s first book, Gate of Ivrel, was published in 1976.
Since then she has become a leading writer of science fiction and fantasy,
known for extraordinary originality, versatility, and superb writing.
She received the John W. Campbell Award in 1977 for the Best New Writer,
voted by the WSFS. Cherryh received the coveted Hugo Award for short
story in 1979 for Cassandra, for novel in 1982 for Downbelow
Station, and in 1989 for Cyteen. Cyteen also won the
Locus Award, presented to winners of Locus magazine’s annual
readers’ poll, for the best science fiction novel of 1988.
A person of varied talents, Cherryh’s personal interests lie in
human genetics, astronomy, space science, aeronautics, astrophysicis,
botany, geology, climatology, archaeology, cosmology, anthropology, and
technology in general with practical and anthropological consideration.
In her official biography she states, “I write full
time. I travel. I try out things. The list includes, present and past
tense; fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, donkeys,
elephants, camels, butterflies, frogs, wasps, turtles, bees, ants, falconry,
exotic swamp plants and tropicals, lizards, wilderness survival, fishing,
sailing, street and ice skating, mechanics, carpentry, wiring, painting
(canvas), painting (house), painting (interior), sculpture, aquariums
(both fresh and salt), needlepoint, bird breeding, furniture refinishing,
video games, archaeology, Roman, Greek civ, Crete, Celts, and caves.” At
61 she took up figure skating.
Cherryh has a BA in Latin from the University of Oklahoma and a MA in
Classics from John Hopkins University in Maryland. She taught Latin and
ancient history in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Today she lives in Spokane,
Hart is an acknowledged master of mystery and suspense. Hailed as
Agatha Christie, she is the author of 35 novels with more than 2.5 million
copies of her books in print. Hart is the first author to win all three
major mystery awards for her novels—the Agatha, the Anthony, and
the Macavity awards. She has won each award twice, and is the only author
to be nominated seven times for the coveted Agatha Award. She was one
of ten authors appearing in the Mystery and Thriller Pavilion at the
2003 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Born in Oklahoma City, Hart began her love affair with mystery by reading
Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Beverly Gray. She received a BA in journalism
with honors from the University of Oklahoma in 1958. She was a newspaper
reporter and worked in public relations before her first book, a children’s
mystery, was published in 1964. She wrote four more young adult novels
before moving into the mainstream.
Hart is renowned for her two bestselling mystery series—the Henrie
O mysteries and the Death on Demand series. She was the recipient
of the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction in 2001 for Sugarplum
novel Letter From Home—a
finalist for 2004's fiction award—was nominated for a Pulitzer
Hart lives in Oklahoma City with her husband Phil.
born in Tulsa and is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation; she is
as one of America’s foremost poets. She received
Book Award in 1995 in the poetry category for The Woman Who Fell From
is a high school graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts
in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she studied painting and theater, not
poetry and music. She received a BA degree from the University
of New Mexico
followed by an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She began writing
the national Indian political climate demanded singers and speakers,
and was taken by the intensity in the craft.
has published seven books of poetry. They include: The Last
She Had Some Horses, In Mad Love and War, The
Woman Who Fell from the Sky,
A Map to the Next World, and What Moon Drove Me to This? Her
most recent book, How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems won
the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award for poetry.
for her writing include the 2002 Beyond Margins Award from the
PEN American Center, the 2001 American Indian Festival of Words
from the Tulsa City County
Library, the 2000 Western
Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the 1988 Lila
Wallace-Readers Digest Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native
of the Americas,
and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry
Society of America. She is also a member of the National
Council on the Arts.
was the narrator for the Native American series on Turner Network
and the narrator for the Emmy award-winning show, Navajo
for National Geographic.
living in Honolulu, Hawaii, Harjo travels nationally and internationally
playing saxophone with her band.
the first time, the Oklahoma Center for the Book presented the annual
Arrell Gibson Award not to an individual, but to an institutionWorld
Literature Today, the worlds oldest international literary
quarterly in English. This year marks the 75th anniversary of this Oklahoma-born,
world-renowned journal and its affiliated programs.
Roy Temple House founded the journal under the name Books Abroad in 1927.
Dr. House directed the department of modern languages at The University
of Oklahoma. A proponent of internationalism, he believed a non-ideological
commentary on foreign literature could help counter Americas trend
toward isolationism, and promote international understanding.
a modest seedling of thirty-two pages (January 1927), Books Abroad
grew to 256 pages by the end of its 50th year (the Autumn 1976 issue).
In January 1977, under the direction of Ivar Ivask, the journal became
World Literature Today, reflecting the truly international range
that its coverage and reputation had acquired.
Ivask, the journals fifth director, was also responsible for initiating
the journals international award for literature in 1969. Today,
International Prize for Literature, supported by an endowment
from the Neustadt family of Ardmore and Dallas, remains one of the few
international prizes for which poets, novelists, and playwrights are equally
journal-sponsored event, the Puterbaugh Conferences on World Literature,
brings a prominent author to The University of Oklahoma each spring for
free lectures. In conjunction with the lectures, World Literature Today
sponsors a symposium featuring world-renowned scholars and specialists
in the authors work. The conference series began in 1968 and was
endowed in perpetuity in 1978 by the Puterbaugh Foundation of McAlester.
75 years, WLT continues to promote international understanding
through the celebration of literature. A new award honoring childrens
literature will debut in 2003. In addition, the journal has begun a new
venture: WLT Magazine, designed for both the general public and
the scholar. In his introduction to the inaugural issue, current director
Robert Con Davis-Undiano writes, In creating a magazine that may
reach a wider public, we are attempting to enlarge that circle of understanding,
as has always been the goal at both Books Abroad and WLT.
Carol Thomas was
born in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Although she moved to California at
the age of ten, she never forgot her Oklahoma background. Known for her
poetry, playwriting, and novelsespecially for children and young
adultsher books resonate with the language, and rhythms of Oklahoma.
Her work evokes a childhood when she made up songs, stories, and poems
and shared them with her family and playmates.
Presently living in California, Thomas has returned to her birthplace
through much of her writing. Oklahoma is the setting for her novels Marked
By Fire (Avon Books), Bright Shadow, and The Golden
Pasture. Her poetry books, I Have Heard Of A Land (Harpercollins
Juvenile Books), Brown Honey In Broomwheat Tea (HarperTrophy),
and Gingerbread Days, are infused with prairie sensibility.
Joyce Carol Thomas received the National
Book Award for her first book, Marked by Fire. That book was
also voted the best book for young adults by the New York Times in 1983.
Her first illustrated book, Brown Honey and Broomwheat Tea won
Scott King Award in 1994.
Joyce Carol Thomas also won the 2001 Oklahoma Book Award in the Children
and Young Adult catagory with her collection African American lullabies,
Hush Songs (Hyperion Books for Children). This is the first time
that a Lifetime Achievement winner has also won an award for a book entered
that year. Thomas' books Gingerbread Days and I Have Heard of
A Land were both finalists for earlier Oklahoma Book Awards.
The 2000 recipient
was Bill Wallace of Chickasha, Oklahoma. Born in Chickasha
in 1947, he started out his working life as a teacher. In 1971, after
with a degree in elementary education, Wallace began teaching school
in his hometown. He taught kindergarten and fourth grade classes. After
a Masters degree in Elementary Administration, Wallace served as an
assistant principal, and eventually as principal of West Elementary
Along the way, Wallace studied professional writing with William Foster-Harris
and Dwight Swain at the University of Oklahoma.
writer, Bill Wallace has written or co-written 25 novels for young people.
With titles like The Biggest Klutz in Fifth Grade, The Great Escape
(Upchuck and the Rotten Willy), and Snot Stew, his books have
been popular from the beginning.
Wallace received the Oklahoma Sequoyah Childrens Book Award for
his book A Dog Called Kitty. The novel written for young people
went on to win the Texas Bluebonnet Award in 1983, and the Nebraska Golden
Sower Award in 1985. Over the years, Wallace has received writing awards
from seventeen different states, including a second Sequoyah award in
1991 for Beauty. Watchdog and the Coyotes was a finalist
for the Oklahoma Book Award in 1996, and Aloha Summer was a finalist in
Wallis, renowned for his writing about Oklahoma, has written a
number of books about our state's history, its rich heritage, and its
people, including Route
66: The Mother Road, Mankiller:
A Chief and Her People, Way
Down Yonder in the Indian Nation, and Oil
Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and The Birth of Phillips Petroleum.
resident of Tulsa, Wallis has presented Oklahoma history in a popular
format that appeals to readers from all backgrounds. His works have been
nominated for the National Book Award and on three occasions for the Pulitzer
Prize. In 1981, he was selected as the number one feature writer by the
Florida Magazine Association. He has won other prestigious awards and
honors, including the 1994 Lynn Riggs Award from Rogers State University
in Claremore. In 1996, Wallis was inducted into the Oklahoma Professional
Writers Hall of Fame, and in 1994 he was named the first inductee into
the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame. Wallis was inducted into the Missouri
Writers Hall of Fame in 1999.
a member of the
Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Writers Hall
of Fame, was a nationally known Norman, Oklahoma, author of 75 published
novels and 6 instructional books about writing fiction.
Two of his novels, The
Apple Dumpling Gang and Baker's
Hawk, were recreated
for film. Two of his books were reprinted
by Reader's Digest Condensed Books, and two were selected as Detective
to writing books, Bickham had a 15-year carrer in newspapers. Yet,
influence may have been as a writing and journalism teacher. Writers
all across the United States proclaim their success is due in part
At the University
of Oklahoma for 21 years, Bickham began as an assistant professor
and finally attained the university's highest honor for teaching
Jack Bickham died on July 25, 1997.
S.E. (Susan Eloise)
Hinton was born in either 1948 or 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma,
where she has lived since. She earned a B.S. degree at the University
of Tulsa in 1970.
writing before she finished high school, having her first book, The Outsiders,
published when she was only 16 years old.
In 1971, her
book That Was Then, This Is Now was named an American Library
Association Notable Book. Other works include: Rumble
Fish , Tex ,
and Taming The Star Runner. Several
of Hinton's books have been made into well-received movies,
including Tex (1982), The
Outsiders (1983), Rumble Fish (1983),
and That Was Then, This Is Now (1985).
John Hope Franklin was
born on January 2, 1915, in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. He earned an A.B.
at Fisk University in 1935, an A.M. from Harvard in 1939, and a PH.D.
Franklin has been the recipient
of many honors. He received Guggenheim
Fellowships in 1950 and 1973. In 1978, Who's Who in America selected
him as one of eight Americans who has made significant contributions
society. In the same year, Franklin was elected to the Oklahoma
Hall of Fame. In addition to his many awards, he has honorary degrees
from more than 100 colleges and universities.
Franklin has served
on many national commissions and delegations, including chairing the
board for One
America: The President's Initiative on Race (a national resource
tool that offers information on conducting dialogues in neighborhoods,
schools, communities, etc.).
Perhaps his best
known book, From Slavery To Freedom: A History Of Negro Americans,
first published in 1947, has sold more than 2 million copies
is translated to French, German, Portuguese and Japanese. Recently, Franklin
was the subject of the film First
Person Singular: John Hope Franklin, featured on PBS in June 1997.
His other works
Emancipation Proclamation, The Militant
1800-1860, The Color Line:
Legacy for the 21st Century, and Racial
Equality In America.
is the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, and from 1985
to 1992 he
was Professor of Legal History in the Law School at Duke University.
Lafferty was born November 7, 1914, in Neola, Iowa. He has lived
in Tulsa since he was 4 years old.
Primarily a science
fiction novelist with a
devoted following, Lafferty won the Hugo Award in 1973 for his short
story "Eurema's Dam" (contained in New Dimensions II: Eleven
original science fiction stories). Novelist Arthur
C. Clarke says of Lafferty, "He is one of the few writers who
has made me laugh aloud!"
Other works include: Past Master, The Fall of Rome, Okla Hannalia
historical novel about the Choctaws coming to Oklahoma,
The Devil is Dead, Fourth Mansions, Serpent's Egg, East of Laughternominated for 1989 Arthur
C. Clarke Award, The Elliptical Grave, and Iron Tears.
Lafferty's short stories have been included in numerous and notable science fiction collections.
son of Kiowa artist Alfred Morris Momaday and writer Natachee Scott,
was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, February 27, 1934. Momaday grew up on
Apache and Pueblo Indian reservations in the American Southwest.
A novelist, poet,
dramatist and illustrator. Momaday earned an A.B. from the University
of New Mexico in 1958, an M.A. from Stanford University in 1960 and
Ph.D., also from Stanford, in 1963. He holds honorary doctorates
from eleven universities, including Yale.
a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966, and won the Pulitzer
Prize in 1969 for his first novel House Made of Dawn.
Momaday was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1987.
include: The Way to Rainy Mountain, Angle
of Geese and Other Poems, The Gourd Dancer, The Names: A Memoir, The Ancient
Child, and a children's book written and
illustrated by Momaday, Circle of Wonder. He is professor
of English at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Keith, children's author and sports journalist, was born April
8, 1903, in Lambert, Oklahoma Territory. He spent most of his life
Oklahoma, where from 1930 to 1969 he was sports publicity director
for the University of Oklahoma. Keith earned a B.A., in 1929 and an
in 1938, both from the University of Oklahoma.
won the Newbery
Medal in 1958 for Rifles for Watie, a book
he researched by interviewing Civil War veterans who lived in Oklahoma.
won two Western Heritage Wrangler awards: one in 1975 for Susy's
Scoundrel, and another in 1979 for The Obstinate Land.
include: Komantcia, The Sound of
Strings, and Sports and Games.
a distance runner who broke the U.S. Masters Association three-mile
over 70. He died on February 24, 1998.
Savoie Lottinville born
November 17, 1906, in Hagerman, Idaho, was a publisher, editor and writer.
He earned a B.A. at the University of Oklahoma in 1929, was a
Rhodes Scholar in 1932, and earned an M.A. in 1939 also at Oxford.
over the OU Press in 1938, succeeding
its founder, Joseph Brandt. Lottinville is said to have built a nationwide
reputation for publishing important scholarly works. Time magazine
said Lottinville built the press into the nation's standout example
of a successful regional publisher. He remained director until his
retirement in 1967.
He was inducted
into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1952, and into the Oklahoma Journalism
Hall of Fame in 1980. He was also recipient of the University of Oklahoma
Distinguished Alumna Award, the Governors Arts Award, and the Curtis
Benjamin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Publishing.
He wrote and
edited many works, among the most famous of which is The Rhetoric of History.
Lottinville died on January 20, 1997, at the age of 90.
novelist and journalist, was born May 27, 1925, and grew up at St. Mary's
Academy, a boarding school for Native American girls at Sacred Hearta
Catholic mission formerly located in Pottawatomie County near Asher, Oklahoma.
Hillerman once said of the nuns at Sacred Heart, They eventually
forgave my brother (photographer Barney Hillerman) and I for not being
Indian, but they never forgave us for not being girls.
a B.A. at the University of Oklahoma in 1946, and an M.A. from the
University of New Mexico in 1966. He worked as a newspaper editor in
a political reporter for United Press International in Oklahoma City.
As a novelist,
he won the Edgar Allen
Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1974 for Dance
Hall of the Dead (Harper 1973). Hillerman was also inducted into
the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993.
which focus predominantly on Navajo themes, include The Blessing
Way, The Boy Who Made Dragonfly, Listening
Woman, A Thief ofTime, Talking
God, Sacred Clowns, The
Fallen Man, and The First Eagle. Hillerman is professor
of journalism at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Boorstin was born October 1, 1914, in Atlanta, Georgia, and grew
up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A historian, Boorstin earned a B.A. at Harvard
cum laude) in 1934. He was a Rhodes Scholar in 1936 and earned a J.S.D.
from Yale University in 1940.
He has been
visiting professor at the University of Rome, the University of Geneva,
of Kyoto and the University of Puerto Rico. In Paris he was the first
incumbent of a chair in American History at the Sorbonne, and at
Cambridge University, England, he was Pitt Professor and Fellow of
He won a National
Book Award in 1959 for The Americans: The Colonial Experience and
another in 1974 for The Americans: The Democratic
Experience, for which he also won
Prize. He has received numerous honorary degrees and has been
decorated by the governments of France, Belgium, Portugal and Japan.
He is the
Librarian of Congress Emeritus, and directed the Library
of Congress from 1975 to 1987. During his tenure, he started
the Center for the Book program. Boorstin
had previously been Director of the National Museum of American
and Senior Historian
of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. Before that
he taught history at the University of Chicago for twenty-five
won the Oklahoma Book Award for The Creators in 1992.
His other works include: The Discoverers, and The
lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ruth, who has
1941 when they
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