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Salon Ada Dispatch: Year 5, 2012

July 26, 2012

Salon Ada Dispatch: Year #5, Day 1

Ceremony underlies a society’s values.  Salon Ada artists took time out from our regularly scheduled ceremonial feast to raise a glass on the sighting of the infamous Higgs boson.  It’s no secret that artists have  celebrated the boson in poetry and song for decades, but physicists (long in the slacker category) had to see it to believe it.

At last, physicists’ findings affirm the grand view of the universe described as concise, symmetrical laws.  It seems everything, including us, results from flaws or breaks in that symmetry.  Hence art!  I’m happy to report that Salonaires did their part to officially recognize the Higgs boson as “found.”  Shouts of hurrah for the boson could be heard throughout West Ada way into the night. . .

Salon Ada Dispatch: Year #5, Day 2


Wandering bewilderedly in the kitchen in the early morning hours, (10 a.m.) dehydrated, after a night of legendary hospitality, (my own) I found author and scholar Chad Allen, alone among a sea of wine glasses, looking for a clean juice cup in which to pour Mighty Mango. Outside other Salonaires began arriving for Day 2 of our summer soirée.  Poet Ken Hada pulled up in front of the  Art Houses  (above) in a red Ferrari California 30.  Yeah, we were all surprised to find that he’d traded in his belov’d white truck for Ferrari, but hey, poetry pays.   Multi-media artist Dustin Mater arrived in a dynamic Renault Alpine; writer and world traveler Linda Hogan sported a 1952 Jaguar C-type, a formula one racer, my, my, these Chickasaws and their cars.  Poetess Jennifer Kidney came in a stretch limo, her driver on call for the next morning, and Monique Mojica flew  her jet from Toronto, Canada to Ada’s small, but chic airpark.  It seems feckless eccentricity has infected us all.

Jim Wilson, Linda Hogan, Chad Allen at Salon Ada, 2012.

By 10:30 a.m. other stalwarts braved the Oklahoma heatto enjoy the rich flavors of espresso bagels, cantaloupe, fresh berries, and dark exotic coffees.  Salon Ada is an annual literary event  where artists gather (see Art Houses pictured above) to augment their knowledge of one another’s work through the art of conversation.  We talk.  This year’s Salonaires were Linda Hogan, Jennifer Kidney, Monique Mojica, Dustin Mater, Jim Wilson, Phillip Carroll Morgan, Greg Rodgers, and Katie Morgan, along with Chahta Women’s fastpitch coach Jay Watson, and Sheila Watson.    (We tried running a water mister outside the house on Friday night to keep us cool, but the garden hose broke and we were left to suffer in 102 plus heat.)  Not to worry it finally cooled to a smooth 99 Fahrenheit by midnight.  Thank you, Higgs boson.

Ginormous Awards and Prestigious News from Salonaires, 2012:

 Phillip Carroll Morgan – He’s the 2012 winner of the gold medal for his book Dynamic Chickasaw Women, Chickasaw Nation Press, 2011, co-authored with Judy Goforth.  For more on the award see Independent Publisher Book Awards Results.  Currently, Phil is at work on the roots of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha, and its deeply Chickasaw connection via Cyrus Harris, (1817-1888) five term governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

Phil writes. “The setting for most of William Faulkner’s novels and short stories was Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi.  Faulkner said his fictional county seat, Jefferson, was a fictional Oxford, Mississippi, his permanent home, the county seat of present day Lafayette County, MS.  The first “governor” of the Chickasaws, Cyrus Harris, elected in 1856 was born in 1817 in his mother’s, Molly Gunn’s, home which they had named Yocknepatafa (from Yakni patafa which in either Chickasaw or Choctaw means furrowed land).  That home was built atop an ancient ceremonial mound a few miles south of Pontotoc, Mississippi. Faulkner was born at New Albany, a few miles west of Pontotoc.  Faulkner’s great-grandfather, WC Falkner, grew up in the same neighborhood around Pontotoc as Cyrus Harris.

Memorial tombstone for Betsy Love, aka Betty Love, in Toccopola, Mississippi. Betsy Love’s famous legal case, Fisher versus Allen, established Mississippi Married Women’s Property Act of 1839, but the law mainly benefitted white women. Read more about Love in Morgan and Goforth’s Dynamic Chickasaw Women.  (Photo by LeAnne Howe)

WC Falkner was a few years younger than Cyrus but they probably knew each other. These facts are central to the second chapter of my current book, working title: Riding Out the Storm: Chickasaw Governors in the Nineteenth Century.  The book, (which I have a free hand in) is morphing more toward literary criticism as it rolls out.  I presented a Chickasaw/Choctaw reading of Faulkner and also of Eudora Welty, cotemporary with Faulkner and who lived her life less than a three-hour drive away from Faulkner.  The Nobel Prize probably eluded Welty because the committee couldn’t bring themselves to award it to practically next-door neighbors.

Phil Morgan raises a glass to Higgs Boson

Journal of Chickasaw History and Culture is publishing the first chapter titled, “The Maze of Colonialism: The Byrds of Virginia and Indian Territory.”  In it, I examine the work of Chickasaw Governor (1888-1892) William Leander Byrd through theoretical lenses provided by his great-grand niece Jodi A. Byrd in Transits of Empire (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), focusing most intently on his tumultuous election campaign in 1888, shortly after Congress passed the Dawes Act. I also trace in the chapter the 338-year trajectory of the Byrd family in America, from the first William Byrd who arrived in 1674 to Jodi Byrd, alive and kickin’ in 2012 . . . .”

Dustin Mater – His new design of a Pendleton blanket was released in spring by Pendleton Blankets USA. .  See the “Spring Blanket” on the website.  It’s glorious.

Pendleton has manufacturing Native blanket designs since 1909.  Dustin’s blanket is the first Mississippian Indian [design] to ever be part of the Pendleton Collection in their 2012 Legendary Blanket series. Dustin has also joined the design team for the new play, Sideshow Freaks and Circus Injuns, co-authored by Monique Mojica and me Our director is Michael Greyeyes.  Other set and custom designers for the play include: Marcus Amerman, Michel Charbonneau, and Erika Iserhoff.

Rilla Askew – Her new novel, Kind of Kin, Ecco, January 2013 is about Oklahoma’s anti-illegal immigration law HB 1804 and its effects on a family and a small town in southeastern Oklahoma.  She has hosted Salon Ada events at her Mountain home outside of McAlester, Oklahoma.   She writes.  “In late July and August, Ken Hada will be going to Chicago and New York City.  Ken will be giving a reading at my husband’s theatre in upstate New York in August, among other fun readings and adventures he has planned. Ken and my family are going to visit our Okie-ness upon New York City while he’s in town.  Which is where, in fact, LeAnne and I first met in about 1990, when she was reading her fabulous short story about a Choctaw woman in New York… The circles are mighty.”

Monique Mojica –  Chocolate Woman Dreams The Milky Way, a play written by Monique is slated to go on road this fall.  See a review, 

Monique Mojica performs in Chocolate Woman Dreams the Milky Way at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at the University of Toronto, June 2011.

She’s also published a new essay, “In Plain Sight: Inscripted Earth and Invisible Realities,” in New Canadian Realisms, New Essays on Canadian Theatre, Volume 2, Playwrights Canada Press, forthcoming in September, 2012. The essay discusses the embodied research on effigy mounds & earthworks that Monique and I are engaged in as part of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant

Monique just wrapped up the very first research and creation workshop for Side Show Freaks and Circus Injuns with seven other collaborators in Toronto.  “Exhausting and super satisfying,” writes Monique.  “Dreaming worlds into being!!”

Ken Hada – He’s on a national book tour with The River White this summer: On August 1, 2012 he’ll be at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY; August 4, Liberty Free Theater, Liberty, NY; and August 9 at the Book Cellar, Chicago.

You can read a review of the book at  Ken is also introducing a new CD he and his musician son, Kenny collaborated on, titled: Like Father, Like Son

Look for news of it and other poetry by Ken Hada, Alan Berecka, and Steven Schroeder’s website  You can also find Ken Hada’s work at

Linda Hogan INDIOS, an epic poem meant to be performed, just came out, April 2012.  A national book club picked it up!  She has New and Selected Poems coming out from Coffee House Press, 2013.  The manuscript is due in July and she’s trying to get it all ready before she went to Taiwan on July 9 to speak at an International Women Writers Conference. “I love Taiwan,” says Linda.

“They actually read my work there and treat me well! And the people are kind. So over the years, I’ve made friends.”  In the fall, she’s putting together her poems, specifically in Chickasaw for the Chickasaw Press. And she is finishing a book for the Chickasaw map project.

Jennifer Kidney – Her new book, Road Work Ahead, Village Book Press, Alpine, Texas, 2012 is out.  She’s currently an adjunct assistant professor for the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Book cover: Road Work Ahead, Poems by Jennifer Kidney

She writes.

“I teach a very demanding course called “Interdisciplinary Foundations,” and the readings are: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn; The Selfish Gene by that famous atheist Richard Dawkins; and, Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol that explores the deplorable condition of public education in our country. All of these are far out of my field (English). This was my first time ever to teach an on-line course.” She was also nominated for a teaching award this year.  She says, “Meanwhile, I’m also doing writing workshops and author presentations at public libraries all over Oklahoma.  If anyone would invite me out of state, I’d be glad to come!”

Pictured, left, just barely, Dustin Mater on keyboard, (right) Ken Hada and Jennifer Kidney, Salon Ada, 2012.

Greg Rodgers – His new story, “Giddy Up Wolfie,” just came out in Trickster, Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection, Fulcrum, 2012.

It’s beautifully illustrated.

Greg will be joining the MFA program at the University of Illinois this fall. We’re thrilled to have him in our program.

Greg Rodgers holding a copy of Trickster, Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection. Salon Ada, 2012.

He was also in DC this summer.  His new film short; Choctaw Places and the Stories They Tell was funded as part of the Tribal Heritage Research Fellowship provided by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. He learned editing techniques in this introduction to filmmaking from another Salonaire alum 2011, Carol Cornsilk

Carol was the Producer/Director/Editor and Executive Producer of Indian Country Diaries/Spiral of Fire, a 90-minute documentary about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, 2006.  She lived and breathed the film for 6 years of her life.

Chad Allen – His new book Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies is due, fall 2012 from University of Minnesota Press.  Anyone you’re interested in reading more about it and/or seeing the very beautiful cover, check out:

In October 2011, Chad organized and hosted The Society of American Indians Centennial Symposium at Ohio State.  He’s following that up with a collection of essays that will be published as a special combined issue of the American Indian Quarterly and Studies in American Indian Literatures.  He was also promoted to full professor this year.His latest article related to his new book “A Transnational Native American Studies? Why Not Studies That Are Trans-Indigenous?” appears in the Journal of Transnational American Studies.  He’s also working on a fabulous novel, but that’s on the QT!

Dustin Mater and Jim Wilson raise a glass to the Higgs Boson

Jim Wilson — Besides teaching creative writing at the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy for the fourth consecutive year, he co-authored, “Life in a Mound City” for World of Indigenous North America, Vols. I & II edited by Robert Warrior, Routledge, 2014.  He writes.

“I presented at AWP this year in Chicago, IL from my memoir, The Journeyman, of  living through 7 yrs in Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war in the 80s.  It’s a story about love in the time of civil war.  I also participated in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) conference in Baltimore, Maryland in June.  There were several hundred participants from around the country, yet most of the presentations came from the Community College of Baltimore County (the host institution), and a number community colleges faculty from California and New York City. Because I like to teach students that they can borrow from other cultures and languages when writing an academic essay in English, I attended several sessions about pedagogy for ESL courses. Experts are finding that ESL students–often good in spoken skills and class participation–can be slower writers because their native grammars (even those from “World English” countries, where the language is a Creole) tend to override that of so-called “Standard English.”  Engaging and adjusting for a student’s cultural context (like mother language, history, etc.) helps both teacher and student to put the learning process in perspective and hopefully provide a greater chance of success.”

Katie Morgan – A multi-media artist, she’s working on a series derived from an early painting of hers, and hard at work on both sculpting and painting.  She shared her pen and inks sketchbook with Salonaires.  Fantastic.

Katie Morgan displays some of her art work at Salon Ada, 2012.

LeAnne Howe – Okay, here’s my news:  In April, I was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas,  The awards ceremony will be in September in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s wonderful to be recognized by my peers around the country.  I owe a debt of thanks to everyone that works on the award; the voting and publicity announcement.  Yakoke.

This past year, I’ve finished three essays that have whipped my knickers threadbare!  “Natives and Performance Culture” for the Oxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literatures, Cambridge, 2014, edited by Daniel Justice (Salonaire alum) and James Cox.  “Life in a Mound City” for World of Indigenous North America, Vols. I & II edited by Robert Warrior, Routledge, 2014.  And finally (long overdue) “Comes Now Ballgame’s Tribalography: Embodied Story” intended for a special edition of SAIL edited by Joseph Bauerkemper.

Big News: Seeing Red, Hollywood’s Pixeled Skins: Indians in Film, Michigan State University Press, 2013, co-edited with Harvey Markowitz and Denise Cummings is a collection of thirty-six essays on American Indians and indigenous peoples in film we’ve been working on since Moses crossed the Red Sea.  It’s finally coming out in 2013.  Cover art by Jim Denomie, fab.  

Essays, funny and smart.  Seeing Red . . . questions Native representations/stereotypes in the last 100 years of Hollywood movies.  While most students have never heard of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, much less that iconic mantra “Hi-ho Silver, away,” unless they’ve seen the promos with Johnny Depp as Tonto, (newly-adopted into the Comanche Nation by renown Comanche elder LaDonna Harris) the anthology promises a lot of laughs and even a few tears, . . . goodnight Mr. Wayne.

What?! You mean we’re out of champagne, already?!  Katie Morgan, me, Chad Allen, Salon Ada, 2012.

More Big News: Choctalking on Other Realities, a collection of New and Selected Stories will be out in 2013, Aunt Lute Books, San Francisco.  These stories are about my travels abroad as a CIA agent, and crazy Indian holidays in America.

So what is Salon Ada?  It’s a lot of things; productive people coming together to talk about art, often we question what drives our work, and much more.  Of course we share fabulous foods over the week-end, like Jennifer’s flourless chocolate cake, and Katie’s rhubarb pie.   We got some art-nerve-endings out of our bodies and onto the page, in film, or on the canvass, or even on the base and ball playing field.

Pictured left to right: Chad Allen, Phil Morgan,  Monique Mojica, (seated) and Linda Hogan (right) at the Art House, Salon Ada, 2012.

There was endless talk this year about money and prestige and power in America politics.   As P.J. ORourke says, “Money is hackneyed and power is trivial, the real gauge is fame.”   I confess I don’t know what fame is, but at Salon Ada, artistic worth is all around us just like the Higgs boson.

PS:  That business about the cars and jets, some of the facts have been changed to suit the story.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2012 1:52 pm

    Great update! You’ve been so busy! And receiving your news today is synchronicity because I begin teaching Miko Kings for tonight’s class. Yea!

  2. LeAnne Howe permalink
    July 26, 2012 1:57 pm

    OMG! That’s timing. We must be in sync. And many thanks for teaching Miko Kings. I hope to have my new collection of short stories out in early 2013.

  3. Jeff Kellogg permalink
    July 26, 2012 3:59 pm

    Sounds like a delicious time in so very many ways! Enjoyed the dispatch as it turned me positively green with envy.

  4. LeAnne Howe permalink
    July 26, 2012 5:07 pm

    Thanks Jeff! We have to get together sometime this year!

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