Distinguished writer N. Scott Momaday is the featured speaker for the fourth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest, on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. in the University of New Mexico Student Union Building ballroom. The lecture is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.
Momaday is one of the most distinguished writers of our time. His first novel, House Made of Dawn was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, an event that brought new visibility to American Indian literature and literature of the Southwest, a landscape that has inflected his fiction, poetry and paintings for decades. Born in Oklahoma of Kiowa ancestry, he lived throughout the Southwest as a child as his parents taught at Indian schools on Navajo, Apache and Pueblo lands. He earned a B.A. from UNM in 1958 and then taught for a year at the Jicarilla Apache Reservation before moving to Stanford University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1963.
Momaday’s writing celebrates the power of language and the richness of oral tradition in works that invoke historical memory and often exceed the boundaries of genre. Momaday explains, “Language fascinates me. Words are endlessly mysterious to me. And I think by and large that’s good. A writer should have that sense of wonder in the presence of words.”
He has published more than 15 volumes of fiction, poetry and drama, including The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), The Names (1976), The Ancient Child (1989), In the Presence of the Sun (1992), The Man Made of Words (1997), and Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems (2011). An accomplished painter in watercolor, he often illustrates his own texts.
Momaday has taught at the University of Arizona, Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-Santa Barbara. He has been an invited speaker at dozens of universities and colleges across the globe, including the University of Moscow. In 1992 he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, and in 2007 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. His honors also include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Academy of American Poets prize, and the Premio Letterario Internationale “Mondello,” Italy’s highest literary award. He was a founding Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, served as Poet Laureate of the Oklahoma Centennial in 2007, and is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Dance Society.
The UNM English Department established the annual lecture series on the literature of the Southwest in 2010 through a gift from renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya.
"The English Department cherishes the fact that Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was on our faculty for so many years. A founder of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, he still inspires us with his joyous approach to life, sense of humor, and eloquent articulation of Hispanic culture and the beauties of the Southwest. He has long been an internationally known man of letters, but we take pride in the fact that he began his career in our department,” English Department Professor and Chair Gail Houston said. “We feel privileged to have received his generous donation, and we are pleased to honor the distinguished N. Scott Momaday for his invaluable contributions as a writer. There is no better venue for celebrating Southwest literature than the University of New Mexico English Department. We look forward to sharing this free event with everyone at UNM and in the community.”
The annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest features foundational figures such as Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz (2010), Las Cruces writer and playwright Denise Chávez (2011), and Taos writer John Nichols (2012). UNM co-sponsors for the event include the Center for Southwest Research, the Center for the Southwest, the Department of English Language and Literature, the Department of History, the Honors College and the Institute for American Indian Research.
For more information, contact the Anaya Lecture Committee or the UNM English Department at (505) 277-6347.