Former University of New Mexico Professor Patricia (Pat) Smith died Sunday, July 11 in Albuquerque. Smith taught English at UNM for 32 years (1971 to 2003) including courses in Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, as well as American literature and creative writing. A memorial service will be held at the University of New Mexico Alumni Chapel on Tuesday, July 20 at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
She also attended Smith College as a scholarship student, graduating with a B.A. in 1964, and Yale University from 1964 to 1970, when she was awarded a Ph.D. in English. Smith began to expand her interests in Native American studies. One of her early Ph.D. students, Laguna Pueblo author Paula Gunn Allen, published a revised version of her doctoral dissertation as, The Sacred Hoop, a groundbreaking approach to feminist studies in Native American literature, in 1986. Among Patricia's companions throughout this period were Native American writers Joy Harjo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz and Luci Tapahonso. She published the first book of her own poems, Talking to the Land, in 1979.
She published her second book of poems, Changing Your Story, in 1991. Smith and her husband joined UNM Professors Paul Davis, David Johnson and Gary Harrison in editing and publishing Western Literature in a World Context, a two-volume college anthology, in 1995. She also published As Long as the Rivers Flow: Stories of Nine Native Americans, with Paula Gunn Allen in 1996; On the Trail of Older Brother: Glous'gap Stories of the Micmac Indians, with Michael RunningWolf in 2000; and a younger reader's biography, Weetamoo: Heart of the Pocassets, for Scholastic Publishers in 2003.
Arrangements are pending for gifts to be donated to Native American educational funds.