Dr. Lindsey Smith
Department of English
I was lucky as a young person growing up in Oklahoma to have mentors who shared Native American and Oklahoma literature with me, even when, at that time, it was not a valued part of the standard school curriculum. There are so many painful parts of our history and culture, but writers from Oklahoma, particularly Indigenous writers, have created from this place a rich literary tradition that continues to inspire me. Joy Harjo, Tulsa native and U.S. Poet Laureate, is a prime example.
My new book, Writing the Native City from Oklahoma, forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press, focuses on urban writing by Indigenous Oklahomans. I argue that contemporary writers from Oklahoma are on the cutting edge of American literature and film, advancing stories of Native life in urban, cosmopolitan environments to new readers and audiences across the world. I investigate three cities—New Orleans, Tulsa, and Santa Fe—as especially key to uncovering the histories of urbanization experienced by Native Americans from Oklahoma and the traces of those histories in literature and film.
My research converges with my directorship of the Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa in that it focuses on sharing and cultivating the literary and film arts of my home state. Over the past five years, I have sought to strengthen and expand a mentoring structure for writers through the Center that now includes an array of community writing workshops and a writers-in-the-schools program. Fourteen teaching artists, writers with extensive teaching and publishing experience, are driving this work in our community, and we are excited to be adding filmmaking education to our growing roster of offerings. I am honored to have the opportunity through my work at OSU to make sure other writers have committed mentors just as I had.