LeAnne Howe

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LeAnne Howe (born April 29, 1951, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is an author, playwright, poet, and Eidson Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Georgia, Athens, USA.



Interview (2017)

  • I really don’t worry about labels. Writers worry about syntax, voice, setting or landscape, plot, and the arch of the story. We worry about craft, the art of the writing.
  • Writing is a form of activism. Again, let’s not separate into small boxes, ‘activism’ versus writing. Native people, I think, prefer to think in more holistic terms. A story is active and a story changes the world. A story is changing the world as I write this.
  • We are still a ‘vacant map’ as Native writers of Native literature. But, a story chooses a writer, not the other way around. So I believe we write, perform, because we must. Nothing else is of importance. Native writers will grow and develop as the stories search them out. That’s exciting and the stories will change the world.

Interview (2013)

  • Humor defuses pain. Humor gives the narrators in my stories agency to tilt at the ever-whirling windmills of colonization. Humor opens a window on historic pain and trauma that American Indians dealt with at the hands of the federal government. Loss of land, loss of dignity, loss of identity, and of course the loss of a brother or sister, parent—which in my great grandmother’s era was a common event.
  • Working in all kinds of situations helps a writer make sense of the world. At least it did for me. But fewer and fewer writers haven’t worked outside of a university or college environment.
  • I do think that reading aloud, or performing one’s own work is very helpful to the writing process. You can hear the voices you are creating, see the scenes you’ve created, and where the text falters.
  • I think most really good teachers, or professors, prepare for their classes as any writer/performer does. You write and then learn your lines, you draw your students into the performance or lecture just as any performer does, and you write a conclusion to the day’s performance or lesson just as any performer does.
  • Learning is supposed to be fun, (or funny) dramatic, and full of irony. A performance.
  • I think the way I come at a story has always been from thinking about the past, (American Indian history, my family’s history, my tribe’s history) and how the present and future are shaped by the past. Put another way, I am certain that we humans live in past, present, and future all at the same time.
  • If it seems like a contradiction, it is. But that is the basis for all stories.
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