Out of Nowhere: Images of Oklahoma
Opens 3:30 pm, Monday, February 20
Edmon Low Library, OSU-Stillwater
The State of the Novel: Constance Squires and Rilla Askew
7:00 pm, Tuesday, February 21
Joseph Gierek Fine Art, 1512 E. 15th Street, Tulsa
Yep! Two literary events comin’ up next week. The first is a gallery showing of the photography of Kelly Kerr, featuring images from his Centennial book Oklahoma Revisited. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the reception after the event.
Kerr is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker and visual communications faculty member at OSU Institute of Technology. Michael Wallis, best-selling author, speaker and storyteller will introduce Kerr.
Born and raised in Ada, Okla., Kerr discovered his passion as an OSU student shooting for the school newspaper, The Daily O’Collegian.
Kerr graduated from the business college in 1989 and was hired at the Tulsa World in 1994. He covered breaking news, features, entertainment and sports. He was named the Oklahoma Press Association’s Photographer of the Year and twice the Associated Press Sweepstakes Award winner.
In December 2007 Kerr became a faculty member at OSU-IT teaching photography and film in the visual communications program. Kerr has received two teaching awards: the 2011 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Award and the 2010 OSU-IT Outstanding Faculty Award.
The OSU Library houses two oral history interviews with Kerr. The first interview focuses on his experiences as an OSU student. The second highlights his photography and creativity. Both interviews are available online.
Event partners include Friends of the OSU Library, OSU Institute for Creativity and Innovation, OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications, Center for Oklahoma Studies, Oklahoma Oral History Research Program, the Tulsa World and OSU Research and Technology Transfer. This event is free and open to the public. For event questions, call 405-744-7331.
Squires’ debut novel, Along the Watchtower has been called “smart, funny, and beautifully written.” Askew is one of our greatest Oklahoma writers, having won the American Book Award (Fire in Beulah), three Oklahoma Book Awards (Strange Business, The Mercy Seat, and Harpsong), and nominated for the Pen/Faulkner Award (The Mercy Seat.)
Squires will read from her novel, while Askew will debut an exclusive preview from her forthcoming book, Kind of Kin. A dialogue will follow about the current state and future of the novel. Sponsor of the event is Book Smart Tulsa. Don’t miss it!
Kitty and I had a great time at the Oklahoma Celebration of Books in Tulsa last Friday and Saturday. We promoted the Oklahoma Center for the Book; talked with authors, readers and aspiring writers; and caught up with some of our librarian colleagues. Like Kitty, I was quite taken with the presentation by authors Sue Monk Kidd and Michael Cunningham.
I’m going to share another highlight of the event for me: the panel on Oklahoma Landscapes which was moderated by William Hagen. Panelists were writers Jim Barnes, Rilla Askew and Hannibal Johnson. The session focused on the importance of “place” in literature; or as Oklahoma Poet Laureate Barnes noted, a story without place is lacking soul. Every Okie knows that we, outselves—indeed, all Americans— have a problem determing if Oklahoma is southern, midwestern, southwestern, or part of the great west. (Just look at the comments on Steve Lackmeyer’s post on his OKC Central blog).
Certainly the diversity of the state’s landscape plays a role in this. Angie Debo noted that taking the shape of our state and placing it anywhere else on a map of the U.S. would not result in a greater diversity of terrain. Debo’s observations, it turns out, were right on: the EPA says Oklahoma is one of only four states with more than 10 Eco-Regions, and that it has the most Eco-Regions by mile than any other state.
Although the panel discussed Oklahoma’s diverse terrain and its influence on the feeling of place, a main theme of the session was on Oklahoma’s unique “place” in American history and culture. It is the place, Johnson said, where three races—European American, Native American, and African American—came together under extraordinary circumstances. All came to this land, Johnson said, for different reasons, but all came because of a great promise; and it was the breaching of this promise for two of the races that frame a unique narrative of Oklahoma history. This theme is echoed in Askew’s short stories and novels as well.
During the course of the panel, Askew’s essay Most American came up. This essay has been published in both Nimrod and in the book Voices from the Heartland, a collection of writings by Oklahoma women. The essay is an eloquent and provocative piece of writing that speaks to the soul and heart of our state and its people. It’s as good an answer to who, what and where we are as anything ever written about our strangely wonderful home.
Most American by Rilla Askew on Google Books.
Oklahoma Authors to present at 4th annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival
The fourth annual Scissortail Creative Writing Festival will be April 2 – 4  at the Estep Multimedia Center, located on the campus of East Central
University. This event is free and open to the public. In addition to the three featured authors, Rilla Askew, Elmer Kelton and LeAnne Howe, the festival will showcase an additional fifty regional authors.
Askew graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1980 and went on to study creative writing at Brooklyn
College, where she received her master of fine arts degree in 1989. Askew’s first novel, The Mercy Seat, received the Oklahoma Book Award and the Western Heritage Award in 1998. Her novel, Fire in Beulah, received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and the Myers Book Award from the Gustavus Myers
Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. Askew’s latest novel, Harpsong, won the 2008 Oklahoma Book Award and Western Heritage Award for Best Novel.
Elmer Kelton is the author of over 40 novels. Four of Kelton’s novels have won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and seven have won the Spur award from Western Writers of America. In 1998 he received the first Lone Star award for lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas. He also received honorary doctorates from Hardin-Simmons University and Texas Tech University. He was given a lifetime achievement award by the National Cowboy Symposium in Lubbock, Texas. His book, The Good Old Boys, was made into a 1995 TV movie starring Tommy Lee Jones for the TNT cable network.
LeAnne Howe is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and is an American Indian author, playwright, and scholar. Her work primarily deals with American Indian experiences. She attended Oklahoma State University, majoring in English. She obtained her master of fine arts degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College in 2000. Howe’s first novel, Shell Shaker received an American Book Award in 2002 from the Before Columbus Foundation. The novel was a finalist for the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award, and awarded Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year, 2002, Creative Prose. Evidence of Red received the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry in 2006.
The Darryl Fisher High School Creative Writing Contest winners will also be awarded during the festival. For more information contact Dr. Ken Hada at 580-559-5557. To view the schedule of readers, visit http://www.ecok.edu/scissortail/Creative_Writing_Festival.asp