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From London to Canterbury to South Dakota: Travels with Choctalking

November 8, 2013
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Within a few minutes the changing of the guard began and all of us tourist got a tongue lashing for not moving out of the way of the horses.  Oh, yes, we were at fault.

Within a few minutes of taking this picture,  the changing of the guard began and we tourists got a tongue lashing for not moving out of the way of the horses. Oh yes, our fault.

Of late, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle.   Traveled to London to read at Goldsmiths University and gave the annual Keynes College lecture at Kent University in Canterbury (which was extraordinary).  The theater team I’m working with to create a new play in 2015 also attended the Origins Festival of First Nations, and, In the Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalization. Both events were in London.  More on that in my next post.

Kent Professor David Stirrup and I, (along with many other scholars) went on an “Indigenous London” walking tour led by US scholar Coll Thrush.  We saw all the places where Natives died badly the past 500 years.  It seems whenever Natives come to London, by choice or by force, they get sick and die. (Note the large blue chicken near Trafalgar Square.  See below.)  By the way, I love the black cabbies in London and driving on the “wrong side of the road.”  I always scream when the cab I’m in swerves around a street corner at 90 kilometers per hour because I’m sure we’re heading for a crash.  Un-hem, thrillseeker here.

Both the King and Queen of Hawaii came to London and died.

Both the King and Queen of Hawaii came to London and died within a day or two other each other.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe indigenous theater conferences in London were created by  professor Helen Gilbert at Royal Holloway, University of London and her amazing group of artists and academics.  Quite a few unique experiences occurred at the conferences that I soon won’t forget.  Thank you so much to Helen Gilbert for inviting me to the conferences, and to the literary scholars Padraig Kirwan, Goldsmiths University; David Stirrup, Kent University who hosted my readings.   See below, Padraig on the left, David on the right.

Thanks to my Illinois colleague Brenda Farnell, we were able to do some research on T.E. Lawrence and visited his home, Clouds Hill in Dorset.  Brenda is originally from York, UK.  And we also visited some indigenous mounds in southwestern England.   They all seem to be around 4500-5000 years old.  See below.  I am not sure yet how to think about the mounds in the UK, or whether Earthworks is a global architectural endeavor.  More on that later.

This is the Mai Don site, a series of raised ridges and a large platform mound in southwest England.

This is the Mai Don site, a series of raised ridges and a large platform mound in southwest England.  Truly amazing in scope and age.  People lived on the site for several thousand years.

Book signing at Keynes College at Kent University, Canterbury.

Book signing at Keynes College at Kent University, Canterbury.

Upon returning home to the US, I traveled to the University of South Dakota’s John R. Milton’s Writers Conference.  A great event,At Keynes College, Kent University, Pardraig Kirwan, left, and right David Stirrup.  like a mini AWP, with multiple creative writing panels.  I was deeply impressed by the works of Fred Arroyo and Natanya Pulley also of USD, Danielle Cadena Deulen from University of Cincinnati.  And it was great seeing Native poets  Tria Andrews and Cassandra Lopez.

In 2000 USD produced Indian Radio Days, directed by Cameron Mitchell.  So in some ways to Vermilion was like a homecoming and seeing old friends.

In 2000, USD produced Indian Radio Days, a play I co-authored with Roxy Gordon. At UDS the play was directed by Cameron Mitchell.  In some ways returning to Vermilion was like a homecoming.    

On Saturday, November 2, 2013,  I read with authors Joy Castro, and Patrick Hicks , followed Pam Houston’s reading.  Thanks to poet extraordinaire Lee Ann Roripaugh for inviting me to USD.  What a gift!

Visited Clouds Hill where T.E. Lawrence was living when he was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Visited Clouds Hill, Dorset, where T.E. Lawrence was living when he was killed in a motorcycle accident.  This is the garage for Lawrence’s cottage at Clouds Hill  that  he was renovating.   The inside of the cottage is filled with memories of the Hejaz.  Rugs, books, camel leather doors, and many other items.

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