Kelli Jo Ford
SAR Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellowship
Ms. Ford is Cherokee and grew up in the land around the Red River that separates Oklahoma from Texas and is known among her people as “Jumping Off Point.” Kelli earned her M.F.A in Creative Writing in 2007 from George Mason University. She currently lives and works in Richmond, VA, and is the recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth George Foundation Artistic Grant. While at SAR, she will be working on polishing up her book, Crooked Hallelujah. In her own words about her project she writes:
As a girl in a family of matriarchs, I spent a lot of time at the feet of strong women, listening past my bedtime. As I find my own voice, I think of the stories as a kind of homage to the women who have shaped me and lifted me up. The mothers, grandmothers, factory workers, waitresses, and artists who drive my work probably border on some kind of obsession for me. I can’t seem to stop writing about the “everyday” heroics I see in the choices and struggles faced by women who live on the margins of poverty—or who fight so hard to escape those margins. Perhaps it’s just that I can’t stop singing the song of my own mothers and grandmothers until I feel I’ve done the melody justice.
I want the stories to reflect more than the lives of one fictional family. I hope people—who, like I did, find themselves explorers in strange classrooms—in some way recognize their lives in my work and know that they can write their stories too, even when they may feel like outsiders in those stories. I want all kinds of people to know these women from Eastern Oklahoma, how we make our way from our homes and struggle and prosper, fight and love, lose and find ourselves. Our world is not homogenous, and I hope to play some small role in making sure that our fiction isn’t either.
Ms. Ford will be in residence at SAR from June 20 the August 5, 2016.
Sponsored by Lannan Foundation.
Public Lecture and Reception for Kelli Jo Ford, August 3, 2016.
Videography by Garret P Vreeland, © School for Advanced Research.