A Poetry Workshop that Changed My Life

"In 1987, I dropped out of Gonzaga and followed a high school girlfriend to Washington State University (it's called Wazoo). And by complete chance, I enrolled in a poetry workshop that changed my life. On the first day, the teacher, Alex Kuo, gave me an anthology of contemporary Native poetry called Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s Back. There were poems by Adrian C. Louis, a Paiute Indian, and one in particular called “Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile.” If I hadn’t found this poem, I don’t think I ever would have found my way as a writer. I would have been a high school English teacher who coached basketball. My life would have taken a completely different path."

~ Sherman Alexie, from "The Poem That Made Sherman Alexie Want to 'Drop Everything and Be a Poet'," by Joe Fassler, The Atlantic, October 16, 2013


Native American poet and author Sherman Alexie on reservations, alcoholism and Chief Wahoo.