A Chicago State University poet and English professor with ties to Oklahoma is embarking on a project to publish the writings of Oklahomans of color, past and present.
Quraysh Ali Lansana, an Enid native who attended the University of Oklahoma, is one of the organizers taking submissions for the project.
“This anthology will be the first to document exclusively the lives of people of color in Oklahoma,” Lansana said. He said works from black, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and other “writers of color,” are sought.
Lansana said the book will be “the first comprehensive anthology” that chronicles the works of such writers born and raised in the state.
“This is absolutely an intergenerational anthology so those of you who work with young people, please encourage them to submit,” Lansana said, “and much work will be published posthumously.”
Native Oklahomans who live in the state and others who “have expatriated” will be published.
The project will embrace a wide range of writers spanning the state's history.
“If you know of a deceased writer, don't hesitate to let us know, as research has been trying. Please don't assume we are aware of your suggested writer,” Lansana said.
The book will be published by Mongrel Empire Press based in Norman, a book company owned by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish. Mish is the director of the Red Earth master of fine arts in creative writing at Oklahoma City University, a program at OCU started by the late Elaine Smokewood.
Mish, who is from Wewoka, said the project is important to Oklahoma history, and she hopes to publish historical writings also.
“Oklahoma has a long history of people of color. When we hear the story of Oklahoma, a lot of times people of color are not really there in it, but there is so much diversity,” Mish said.
Writings about all aspects of life in Oklahoma — including politics, history, culture and the land — will be included. All topics and genres are welcome.
Lansana said, “We're looking for essays, interviews, short fiction, poetry and personal reflections for publication that explore life in Oklahoma as well as the state's rich history.”
The deadline for consideration is Aug. 1, and the book should be printed in a year, Mish said.