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F r o m t h e E d it o r M e l o d y G r a u l i c h “Space; whispering space,” writes John Joseph Mathews of Oklahoma in Wah’Kcni'Tah: The Osage and the White Man’s Road. It was “wild space, yet it was never silent.” Whether describing the end of a trail of tears or the beginning of “blowin’ down the road,” Oklahoma writing is characterized by powerful populist voices like Woody Guthrie’s that refused to be silenced, by men and women who rejected invisibility, who “ain’t a-gonna be treated this a-way.” I hate a song that makes you think you’re not any good. I hate a song that makes you think you are just bom to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. . . . Songs that run you down or songs that poke fun of you.... I am out to fight those kinds of songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. Like Woody Guthrie, other Oklahoma writers spoke out in a variety of genres for the downtrodden and dispossessed, offering models of human decency and dignity. As Mathews suggests, space whispers the history of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma writing maps the shifting lines of migrations, land grabs, and dispossession. In Oklahoma! — their distortion of Lynn Riggs’s Green Grow the Lilacs— Rodgers and Hammerstein perhaps inadvertently parodied these themes when white homesteaders sing, “We know we belong to the land. I And the land we belong to is grand!” Yet other writers present more sharply satiric comments on history, ownership, immigration, and the evo­ lution of the nation, as did Will Rogers in his famous comment, “My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they met the boat.” Western American Literature is pleased to devote an issue to Oklahoma writers, with a special focus on Oklahoma’s legacy as “Indian Territory.” Jerome Tiger. CHEROKEE, CREEK, CHOCTAW, CHICKASAW, AND SEMINOLE TRAIL OF TEARS. 1966. Tempera. 16 3/4" x 8". Courtesy Five Civilized Tribes Museum, Muskogee, Oklahoma. ...


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