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Howe awarded for lifetime achievement by Society for the Study of Southern Literature

Alan Flurry

University of Georgia professor LeAnne Howe was awarded the Richard Beale Davis Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to Southern Letters by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature for her work as a scholar and writer. Howe received the award at the 2022 SSSL conference in Atlanta on June 26.

The Richard Beale Davis Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service to Southern Letters is awarded every other year at the biennial conference of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, honoring a writer or scholar who has made distinguished lifetime contributions to southern letters. The award is named after the Society’s first president, Richard Beale Davis, who served in that position from 1969-1970.

Howe, Eidson Distinguished Professor in American Literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of English, is a scholar, poet, playwright, and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She served as editor, along with Executive editor U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and Managing Editor Jennifer Elise Forester of the 2020 the Norton anthology, “When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through, A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry.”  The landmark anthology covers two centuries of Native poetry and includes 160 Native poets.

Howe co-produced the documentary film, “Searching for Sequoyah” that aired nationally in November, 2021 with director and co-producer James M. Fortier.   The story centers on the life and disappearance of Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee syllabary. She is the recipient of many distinguished awards including the United States Artists (USA) Ford Fellowship, Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, American Book Award, Oklahoma Book Award, and served as a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar to Jordan.

“It’s truly a heartfelt moment receiving such extraordinary recognition. I’m fortunate to work in a field that I love and to be able explore so many different genres in seeking to unpack some of the most vibrant history and voices of our world,” Howe said. “It’s an exciting moment for my career and I am deeply honored.”  

"How lucky we are to live in the era where we can read the works of LeAnne Howe, whose Choctaw characters are anything but mute; they are funny and smart and biting and charming and continue to teach us about the long, long history of the place we currently know as the U.S. Southeast and the many complex Indigenous nations who have lived here for millennia," said Kristin Squint, Whichard Visiting Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities in English and Gender Studies and Associate Professor of English at East Carolina, in her remarks presenting the award on behalf of the SSSL.

The SSSL Lifetime Achievement Service award is named for Richard Beale Davis, author of the three-volume “Intellectual Life in the Colonial South, 1585-1763” (1978), which received the National Book Award for History in 1979. Ernest J. Gaines, author of “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1971), “A Lesson before Dying” (1993), and other widely-respected works of fiction, received the first Richard Beale Davis Award in 2002. Winners of the award attend and give a reading at the biennial SSSL conference.

John Lowe, Barbara Methvin Professor of English at UGA, presented Howe with the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's event.


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