Oklahoma women have meaningful stories to tell. Join us at the Oklahoma Book Festival, as we hear from the editors of Voices from the Heartland, Vol. II, a new collection of writing by women from the Sooner State. Editors Sara Beam, Emily Dial-Driver, Rilla Askew, and Juliet Evusa will read from their own essays and share the ins-and-outs of how they worked together to produce a living artifact of women’s history.
The 38 essays gathered in Voices from the Heartland are honest and, at times, raw. They cover such varied topics as girlhood, trauma, the workplace, parenting, politics, and religious beliefs. Contributors to Voices represent a broad cross-section of Oklahoma women. They include Jari Askins, Jenny Yang Cropp, LeAnne Howe, Grace E. Franklin, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, and Ellen Stackable.
As Sara N. Beam states so eloquently in her preface, “You’ll read their stories here as they want them told: in a mix of poetry and prose, in the voice of a relative, in the voice of a tired person across the breakroom table, in a secret hush, or in a voice not unlike that of your best friend or mother.”
These voices from the heartland inspire us to pause, to listen, to understand, to evolve, and to make a difference.
Sara Beam’s formative years were split among several small towns, first in southeastern Oklahoma and then in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She graduated from Hendrix College in 2002 with a B.A. degree in English. After moving to Tulsa, she completed the University of Tulsa (TU) English Master’s and Doctoral Degree programs in 2010. She is Applied Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at TU. Her academic interests include teaching, written composition, women’s and gender studies, visual rhetoric, and childhood studies. Her scholarly work includes co-editing and writing sections of the 2015 book Children’s and Young Adult Books in the College Classroom: Essays on Instructional Methods. In the Tulsa community, Sara is involved with the St. John’s Center for Spiritual Reformation and is a supporter of the Little Blue House at TU.
Emily Dial-Driver is Professor of English and Humanities at Rogers State University. She has authored textbooks, articles, plays, poems, and telecourses, and is co-editor of Voices from the Heartland (vol. 1), The Truth of Buffy, Fantasy Media in the Classroom, and Children’s and Young Adult Books in the College Classroom. She is the author of Conjunction: A Novel of Murder and Manners, Excursions: 15 Short Stories; SideWalks: Collected Poems; and A Play Collection: One Adult and Four All-Ages. Having won local awards for service, publication, and teaching, she also received, in 2014, the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence for teaching in regional institutions and community colleges.
Rilla Askew is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a collection of creative nonfiction, Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place. She is a PEN/Faulkner finalist, recipient of the Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma Book Award, and a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her novel about the Tulsa Race Massacre, Fire in Beulah, received the American Book Award in 2002. Rilla’s essays and short fiction have appeared in Tin House, World Literature Today, Nimrod, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at the University of Oklahoma.
Juliet Evusa is Professor and Greg Kunz Endowed Chair of Communications, as well as Assistant Director for Academic Enrichment, at Rogers State University. In 1993, she received her B.A. from the University of Maharaja Sayajirao, Baroda, India, eventually becoming a Social Services Officer with the Ministry of Cultural and Social Services in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1995, Juliet accepted a position with the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, where she served as a Foreign Exchange staff member for three years. In 1997, she was awarded a full scholarship at the University of Ohio, Athens, where she received dual M.A. degrees in the Schools of International Affairs and Telecommunications. She later received her doctoral degree in the university’s School of Communications in 2005. Fall 2017 marked the thirteen-year anniversary of Juliet’s tenure at Rogers State University. Thanks to her recent appointment as the Greg Kunz Endowed Chair of Communication, Juliet will spend future summers in Kenya to work on a video-ethnography that will explore the ways in which gender, underserved locations (rural and slums), and education interrelate to create an environment of multiple vulnerability for underprivileged Kenyan students attending secondary schools. She currently resides in Claremore, Oklahoma, with her supportive partner Patrick and their two sons, Ambula and Devin.