Sherman Alexie, a writer known for his poetry, novels, short fiction and screenplays, will deliver the Buder Center for American Indian Studies Lecture for the Washington University Assembly Series at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 16. His talk, “Without Reservations: An Urban Indian’s Comic, Poetic and Highly Irreverent Look at the World” will be held in Graham Chapel, located just north of Mallinckrodt Student Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University Hilltop Campus. The talk is free and open to the public.
A Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian, Alexie grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Wash. He earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies at Washington State University, where he excelled at writing. Soon after graduating, he received the Washington State Arts Commission Poetry Fellowship in 1991 as well as the National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship the following year.
After publication of The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven in 1993, Alexie received the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Book of Fiction as well as the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. His first novel, Reservation Blues, garnered the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award. His other works include I Would Steal Horses and 1996’s Indian Killer.
Alexie and collaborator Chris Eyre, co-wrote the screenplay for Smoke Signals, a film inspired by Alexie’s short story, “This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” in 1997. Smoke Signals won two awards at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival — the Audience Award and the Filmmakers Trophy. The following year the film garnered a Christopher Award, and Alexie received the Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year Award.
In the course of production for Smoke Signals, Alexie first competed and won the World Heavyweight Poetry Champion title. He is the first poet to hold the title for four consecutive years, from 1998 until 2001. During that time Alexie also published The Toughest Indian in the World, which received the National Magazine Award in 2000, won the PEN/Malamud Award, and was a finalist for the PEN USA West Fiction Award in 2001.
In 2002 Alexie completed another film project based on one of his poetry collections, The Business of Fancydancing. The film won a variety of awards from the independent film community, including Best Narrative Feature Film at the Durango Film Festival and the Audience Award Winner at both the San Francisco and Philadelphia International Lesbian & Gay Film Festivals.
Later this year, Grove Atlantic Press will re-issue The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven with two new short stories, and Limberlost Press will publish Alexie’s latest collection of poems, Dangerous Astronomy, later this spring.
For more information on the Assembly Series lecture, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page at http://assemblyseries.wustl.edu.