Thomas Chair 2007GAMBIER, Ohio (February 27, 2006) This semester, Kenyon students have the opportunity to study poetry-writing and Native American literature with poet, writer, and storyteller Simon Ortiz, who is teaching this spring as the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing.
Ortiz grew up in the Acoma Pueblo community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Literature allowed him to express his beliefs while embracing his Acoma culture and sharing it with others. A full-blooded Native American, fluent in both his native tongue of Keresan and English, he has held official tribal positions as interpreter and first lieutenant governor of Acoma Pueblo.
Ortiz's books include Naked in the Wind, Going for the Rain, A Good Journey, From Sand Creek, and Woven Stone. His most recent book, Men on the Moon, is a collection of short stories filled with memorable characters from his people's community and culture. He is a recipient of the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Writer's Award, the New Mexico Humanities Council Humanitarian Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Discovery Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and was an Honored Poet at the 1981 White House Salute to Poetry. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers.
He attended Fort Lewis College and the University of New Mexico for undergraduate studies, and received his M.F.A. as an International Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa's Writer's School. Ortiz has taught creative writing and literature at various institutions, most recently at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada.
The Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing brings internationally-recognized poets and fiction writers to Kenyon for one semester each academic year to teach creative writing workshops and literature courses. Some recent occupants of the Thomas Chair include fiction writer and poet Fanny Howe, novelists Barry Unsworth and Claire Messud, fiction and non-fiction writer Courtney Brkic, and poets Alan Shapiro and John Kinsella. The permanent fall-semester occupant of the chair is Lewis Hyde.