Ford participates in Indigenous writing fellowship
Cherokee Nation citizen Kelli Ford plans to finish her collection of short stories book, “Crooked Hallelujah,” this summer while participating in the School for Advanced Research’s 2016 Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellowship in Santa Fe, New Mexico. VALERIE FORD HANCOCK/COURTESY
RICHMOND, Va. – This summer Cherokee Nation citizen Kelli Ford will work on her collection of short stories while participating in the Lannan Foundation’s School for Advanced Research’s 2016 Indigenous Writer-in-Residence Fellowship.
“This year it’s June 20 through Aug. 5…They provided a Native writer housing for the seven weeks and also a designated office space and then basically that’s it,” she said. “I just get to take my family out to Santa Fe (New Mexico) and get to have a place to live and work for the summer and get a nice stipend to take care of us. Pretty neat deal.”
She said by the end of her fellowship she hopes to have her short stories collection titled “Crooked Hallelujah” ready to submit to publishers.
“It’s a collection of short stories, so there’s all kinds of stuff going on,” she said. “It’s not necessarily a novel with just one overarching plot, but it’s mainly about a family of mixed-blood Cherokee people. A mom and a daughter, in particular, who leave eastern Oklahoma and move to north Texas in the 1980s. So kind of about their life there and their lives going back and forth and stuff like that.”
She said the stories have fictional characters, events and sometimes places but are inspired by her life.
“My mom and I left Sequoyah County when I was a little girl and moved to Texas, so it is definitely inspired by that. It’s fiction, so it’s all made-up characters and all that, but it is definitely inspired by my life and people and women in particular I’ve known,” she said. “I come from a family of pretty amazing strong Native women and others. So it’s kind of inspired by that stuff.”
Ford said by participating in the fellowship she would be able to focus on writing.
“Just the time to write is going to be so valuable,” she said. “My husband’s a teacher, and so since I got the fellowship he’s not going to be teaching. So he’s going to be Mr. Mom, and I’m just going to have the office space away from home and the time to really, really just work. As a writer that’s really huge to get big hours of time rather than sort of write for an hour here or an hour here. I’m really close to finishing my book. It’s really about the time.”
Ford said although this is her first book, she’s had short stories published.
“I just had a piece that got published in the Virginia Quarterly Review this past spring and then I’ve got some other short stories out there, just individual pieces,” she said. “I don’t have a book out. This is my first one I’m working on.”
She said in some of her stories she uses the Cherokee language. “When I was a little girl I grew up hearing it, but I haven’t been around it in so long. I never spoke it, so I don’t know how well I’m doing it. And so I think at SAR with those resources and time I can study the language a little bit just to try to make sure that if I’m going to try to use it a little bit, that I do a good job.”
Ford said it’s an “honor” and to write stories for people to read and get a look into her ideas.
“It’s an honor and it’s definitely a privilege to get to spend my time working on things that I make up,” she said. “It’s a pretty solitary endeavor, especially at the beginning, but it’s definitely an honor to be able to take people on a ride. Of course, when you first put something out there it’s also pretty scary. You reveal a lot of yourself, and you doubt yourself and all that, but that makes it all the more rewarding to get to share it with people.”
Richmond Va. – ᎯᎠ ᎪᎦ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Kelli Ford ᎾᎿ ᏚᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎮᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᏩᏟᏌᏅ ᏗᏍᏆᎳ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ ᏧᏩᏟᏌᏅᎢ ᏚᎾᎥᎢ ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎨᎳᏗᏙᎮᏍᏗᎴ ᏱᎩ ᎾᎿ Lannan Foundation’s ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ Advanced Research’s 2016 Indigenous Writer-in- Residence Fellowship.
“ᎯᎠ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏛ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏕᎭᎷᏱ ᏔᎵᏍᎪᎯᏁ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎩ ᎾᎿ ᎦᎶᏂ ᎧᎵ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ…… ᎠᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗᏍᎪ ᎠᏁᎯᏯ ᏗᏃᏪᎵᏍᎩ ᎤᎾᏁᎳᏗᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎩᎵᏉᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᏙᏓᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎤᏠᏅᏓ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎾᏛᏅᎢᏍᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏍᎩ ᏓᏆᏓᏘᎾᎢ ᎢᎸᏉ ᏗᎦᏘᏅᏍᏗ Santa Fe (ᎢᏤ ᎠᏂᏍᏆᏂᎢ) ᎠᎴ ᎣᎦᏁᎳᏗᏍᏗᎢ ᏃᎴᏍᏊ ᏗᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎪᎦ ᎨᏒ ᎠᎴ ᎡᎵ ᎢᎦ ᎬᏆᏛᏅᎢᏍᏓᏁᎸ ᎣᎦᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ. ᏙᎯᏳ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᎵᏍᎬᎢ.”
ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᎵᏍᏆᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏓᎾᏠᏍᎬᎢ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎭ ᎤᎾᎡᏍᏗ ᏧᏩᏟᏌᏅ ᏍᏆᎳ Ꮧ4ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏍᎩ ᏧᏬᏍᏗᎢ “ ᎤᏣᏍᏈᏗ Hallelujah” ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏔᏃᏅ ᏣᏗᎦᏅᏗ ᏧᏂᎴᏴᏙᏗᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᎩᏟᏌᏅ ᏗᏍᏆᎳ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎪᏪᎳᎾᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ ᏝᏃ ᎾᎿ novel ᏣᏃᏎᎰᎢ ᏱᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏌᏊ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎪᏪᎵᎢ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎵ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ. ᎤᏓᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏪᏥ ᎠᎨᏳᏣ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎨᏒ, ᎤᏂᎩᏎ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎡᎲ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏴᏢᎢ ᎢᏗᏢ Texas ᎤᏪᏅᏎ ᎾᎿ ᏐᏁᎳᏚ ᎢᏍᎪᎯᏧᏈ ᏁᎵᏍᎪ ᏧᏕᏘᏴᏌᏗᏒᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏄᏍᏛ ᎤᎾᏕᏅ ᎾᎿ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏂᎩᏍᎬ ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏛ.”
ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅ Ꮭ ᎤᏙᎯᏳᎯ ᏱᎩ ᎨᏥᏃᎮᏍᎩ, ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏴᏓᎭ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎴᏂᏙᎲᎢ ᎧᏃᎮᎯ.
“ᎡᏥ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏯ ᎣᎩᎾᏂᎩᏒ ᏏᏉᏲ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏍᏗ ᏥᎨᏳᏣ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎣᎩᎾᏓᏅᏒ Texas ᏬᎩᏂᎷᏨ, ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎤᎦᎵᏍᏗ ᏙᎩᎾᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏔᏅ. ᏝᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᏱᎩ, ᎪᏢᎯᏌᏅᎢ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎾᏍᎩ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎤᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏓᏗᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᏧᏂᎪᎵᏱᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏆᏅᏛᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᏂᏛᏆᏓᎴᏅ ᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᏧᎾᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎯᏯ ᎠᏂᎨᏯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᎩᎦᎵᏍᏓᏗᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ.”
Ford ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎾᏛᏁᎲ ᎠᎾᏓᏟᏏᏍᎬ ᎾᎿ ᏯᏓᏅᏛᎵ ᏧᏬᏪᎶᏗᎢ.
“ᎾᎿ ᎠᏍᏆᎵᏍᎬ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᎢᎦ ᎣᏏ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬ. “ᎣᏍᏗᏁᎳ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎦ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎯᎠ ᏥᏂᏗᎦᏛᏁᎵ Ꮭ ᏱᏓᏕᏲᎲᏍᎨᏍᏗ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ Mr. ᎤᏓᏥ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ, ᎠᎴ ᎠᏯ ᏃᏊ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎤᏠᏅᏛ ᏥᏯᎡᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎢᎦ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎮᏍᏗ ᏓᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎮᏍᏗ. ᏗᎪᏪᎵᏍᎩ ᏥᎩ ᎢᎦ ᎪᎯᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᎾᏃ ᏝᎦᏊ ᏥᏛᎪᏪᎵᏍᎪᎢ. ᎢᎦ ᎤᏍᏗ ᎠᎩᎷᎳ ᎠᎦᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎪᏪᎵ ᎪᏪᎵᏍᎬᎢ. ᎤᏍᏆᎸᎭ.”
Ford ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎯᎠ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎪᏪᎵ, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏚᎾᎢ ᏗᏍᏆᎳ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ ᏓᏥᎴᏴᏓᏁᎸ.
“ᎠᎩᎾᎢ ᎾᎿ ᏧᏂᎴᏴᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩ Virginia Quarterly Review ᎯᎠ ᎪᎨᏯ ᏥᎨᏒᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏓᎩᎾᎢ ᏗᏐᎢ ᏗᏍᏆᎳ ᏗᎪᏪᎳᏅ, ᏗᏏᏴᏫᎭᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “Ꮭ ᎪᏪᎵ ᏯᎩᎾᎢ. ᎯᎠ ᎢᎬᏱ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏥᏂᎬᏁᎭ.”
ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎢᎦᏓ ᏚᏬᏪᎸ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᏔᏅᎢ. “ᏥᎨᏳᏣ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎠᏆᏛᏏᏗᏒᎦᏛᎩᏍᎬ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎪᎯᎦ ᎬᏆᏛᎦᏅᎢ. ᏝᏃ ᎠᏯ ᏱᏥᏬᏂᏍᎨ, ᏝᏃ ᏯᏆᏅᏔ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᏂᎦᏛᏁᎯ. ᎠᎴ ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩ SAR ᎾᎿ ᎤᏂᎿᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏝᏅᏓᏗᏍᎬ ᎡᎵᏊ ᎬᏆᎦᏎᏍᏙᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᏱᏓᎬᏔᏂ ᎯᎠ ᏂᎦᏛᏁᎲᎢ, ᎾᎿ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏯᏆᏛᏗᎢ.”
Ford ᎠᏗᏍᎬ ᏙᎯᏳ “ᎦᎵᎡᎵᎦ” ᎡᎵᏊ ᏗᎬᏉᏪᎶᏗ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏧᏂᎪᎵᏰᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬᎢ.
“ᏙᎯᏳᎢ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏝᏅᏓᏕᎲ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏗᎩᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏕᎪᏢᏍᎪᎢ, “ ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᏙᎯᏳᏃ ᎤᏤᏟᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ, ᏙᎢ ᎨᏐ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᏗᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᏧᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᎸᏅᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ.
ᎤᎪᏓ ᎣᏩᏌ ᎥᏓᏃᎮᏍᎪ, ᎠᎴ ᏴᏓᎭ ᎥᏓᎳᏏᏘᏍᎪ , ᎠᏎᏃ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᏍᏗ ᎢᎨᏐ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᏴᏫ ᏓᏂᎪᎵᏱᏍᎬ ᏗᏉᏪᎳᏅᎢ ᏗᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ.”