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Spring At Last!

March 25, 2015


Georgia! Thank goodness the cranky weather, cloudy, rainy holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, freaky ice storms — are behind us now.  Just in the nick of time. March has been a bit of a knicker-pincher in terms of the events I’ve hosted beginning on March 5, 2015 with Lo! The Poor Indian No More:  The Trans-Atlantic Choctaw Irish Exchange 1848-1995, A Colloquium at the Russell Special Collections Library at the University of Georgia. 

In 1847, the Choctaw Indians at Skullyville, Indian Territory were saddened to hear the news of the starvation in Ireland due to the potato famine. The Choctaw had experienced starvation only sixteen years earlier, when the entire Choctaw Nation of people were forced to walk west by Andrew Jackson’s government. The event is known as the Trail of Tears. Choctaws were the first to be “removed” out of Southeast and their ancient homelands. The Nation lost one quarter of its population. Fast-forward to Skullyville, Indian Territory. The Choctaws collected $170.00 (or $710.00, there’s a controversy about the money) and forwarded the funds to the U.S. famine relief organization. images-1

Paul Gleeson, Consul General of Ireland, Atlanta began our event on March, 5, 4:30 p.m., at the University of Georgia and told us that incredible as it sounds, Ireland’s population has never recovered from the famine disaster of 1847-1848.  Before the famine Ireland’s population was eight million.  168 years later the population of Ireland is barely six million. imgres

The panelists for the colloquium were Jacki Rand, (citizen, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), associate professor of history at the University of Iowa; Padraig Kirwan, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK; Peter D. O’Neill, Assistant professor in the Comparative Literature Department at UGA; Jace Weaver, Franklin Professor of Native American Studies and the Director of the Institute of Native American Studies at UGA, and me.  We had a marvelous crowd of about 90 people, a mix of the public, students and faculty and I’m so grateful for the support everyone has shown me.  The March 5 event was to kick off our book-length project on the history of the Irish Choctaw exchange. Pictured below, left to right, Padraig Kirwan, Peter O’Neill, Paul Gleeson, Jace Weaver, Jacki Rand, and me. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Following the Choctaw Irish Colloquium, the UGA Creative Writing faculty flew to Missoula, Montana for “Thinking Its Presence: The Racial Imagery” March 12-14, 2015, a conference on race in the 21st century.  The panel reading was Thursday afternoon and organized by poet and fiction writer, Maggie Z.  Her new book Companion Animal is coming out in a few hours, (actually April 1) congratulations Maggie.   See back and front below.  Cool, beans, huh!Zurawski - Cover draft 7

Pictured below are the UGA creative writers, left to right, Magdalena Zurawski, Gabriel Fuentas, Shamala Gallegher, and Ed Pavlic. The next day I had to leave Missoula, Montana and fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Native American Literature Symposium (NALS), March 12-14, 2015.  I’ve been part of the organizing group that’s hosted NALS for the past 16 years. We’ve always held the conference on Native land, another important aspect of the conference.


Pictured below are NALS regulars at the Isleta Casino where the conference was held this year.  I can hardly believe it, that 16 years have passed so quickly. I’m very proud of all the literary scholars that have come through NALS over the years.


My last event to host in March at UGA is a reading by Susan Power, author of the 2013,
Sacred Wilderness
, Roofwalker, and The Grass Dancer.  Power’s reading, March 26, 2015 will be at 4:30 p.m. at the North Auditorium on the UGA campus.  Power is also reading and signing books at Avid Books in Athens, GA from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Next, the UGA CW faculty will be reading at Cine Theater on Hancock in Athens, GA March 31, 2015 from our work.  7 p.m.  (I’ll be reading new poems.)

On April 4, 9:30 p.m.  I’ll be reading at the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma.  YAH!

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