Select Page

Crooked Hallelujah Receives National Book Awards

May 12, 2019

In the summer of 2016, Kelli Jo Ford (Cherokee) arrived in Santa Fe with a three-year-old daughter and a husband in tow. The family settled into the King Residence on SAR’s historic campus, and Ford began work as the summer’s Indigenous writer in residence. Over the three-month fellowship, Ford crafted and revised a series of short stories that became Crooked Hallelujah. “If you are a writer and a parent,” Ford says, “it can be a real challenge to find the time and space to write. Having the office, the library, and the other resources, I felt like we had everything we needed and that our time was respected and honored. I felt like the space and time were sacred.”

Ford grew up near the Red River, a natural barrier that separates Oklahoma from Texas and the region central to Crooked Hallelujah. Set during the oil bust of the 1980s, it follows Justine and her daughter, Reney, as they move from eastern Oklahoma to Texas.

The narrative describes four generations of Cherokee women and the course of their relationships as they negotiate relocation, economic hardships, and questions of faith.

Kelli Jo Ford, 2016 Indigenous Writer in Residence

The first person in her family to graduate from college, Ford sees the support provided by the women in her family as crucial to her personal success and influential in her current writing.

“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. . . . 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.”

This melody is now reaching the right ears. Ford’s book will be published by Grove Atlantic in 2020, and one of its stories just won the 2019 Plimpton Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review. The book also recently earned the University of Oklahoma’s 2019 Everett Family Southwest Literary Award. From 2011 to 2018, SAR’s Indigenous writer in residence program was funded by Lannan Foundation. In addition to Ford, the fellowship supported seven other emerging Native American writers.

When asked about the importance of supporting Native artists and authors, Ford adds, “I think it’s an important time. In some ways, the past few years might have been viewed as a vacuum for Native writing. But there are, and have been, so many great Native writers who are worthy of more attention—writers like Susan Power, Ernestine Sannkalaxt’ Hayes, and David Treuer. And there are so many up-and-coming writers doing amazing work, like Tommy Orange, Brandon Hobson, Erika T. Wurth, and Casandra Lopez. Who knows how many gifted writers there are out there who just haven’t had the right opportunity or access to something like a writer’s fellowship? That role of cultivating new Native voices is so valuable. I wouldn’t have been able to get the work finished without the time at SAR.”


This piece appears in SAR’s bi-annual print newsletter, SAR Now. Read the current and past issues online here.


 

SAR members receive SAR Now directly in the mail. 

Follow SAR

Upcoming Events

May
24
Fri
2019
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
May 24 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. Containing more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]
May
30
Thu
2019
8:00 am President’s Circle Field Trip: H... @ Minneapolis, MN
President’s Circle Field Trip: H... @ Minneapolis, MN
May 30 @ 8:00 am – Jun 2 @ 5:00 pm
President's Circle Field Trip: Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists and Native Arts of Minnesota @ Minneapolis, MN
President’s Circle Trip to Minneapolis Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists and Native Arts of Minnesota Date: Thursday, May 30 to Sunday, June 2, 2019 Admission: Priority given to members of the Board of Directors, Founders’[...]
May
31
Fri
2019
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
May 31 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. Containing more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]
Jun
6
Thu
2019
10:00 am SAR Summer Salon – Aging in Plac... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
SAR Summer Salon – Aging in Plac... @ Eric S. Dobkin Boardroom, SAR
Jun 6 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Concluding the 2018–2019 Creative Thought Forum theme of tradition and innovation, SAR presents our Summer Salons: conversation-style discussions exploring topics of broad social concern with leading experts. Learn more about the Creative Thought Forum which[...]
Jun
7
Fri
2019
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Jun 7 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. Containing more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]
Jun
14
Fri
2019
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Jun 14 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. Containing more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]
Jun
15
Sat
2019
1:00 pm Special Event: “The Hounds of El... @ School for Advanced Research
Special Event: “The Hounds of El... @ School for Advanced Research
Jun 15 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Special Event: "The Hounds of El Delirio," Celebrating 80 years of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter at the School for Advanced Research @ School for Advanced Research | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Join us where it all began, on the historic estate of Elizabeth and Martha White, now the campus of the School for Advanced Research, and help celebrate 80 years of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.[...]
Jun
21
Fri
2019
2:00 pm Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Tours of the Indian Arts Researc... @ Indian Arts Research Center
Jun 21 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
The Indian Arts Research Center (IARC) houses an outstanding collection of Native American art, including pottery, jewelry, textiles and clothing, paintings, basketry, and drums. Containing more than 12,000, items, the IARC is home to works[...]

Pin It on Pinterest

Share this

Share this post with your friends!