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Indigenous author & botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer named recipient of OSU’s 2024 Stone Award

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By Molly Rosbach, [email protected]

Source: Tim Jensen, [email protected]; Elena Passarello, [email protected]

This news release is available online: https://beav.es/qcW

Photos of Robin Wall Kimmerer: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB1UXZ

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Indigenous author, botanist and professor Robin Wall Kimmerer has been named as Oregon State University’s 2024 recipient of the Stone Award for Literary Achievement.

Kimmerer will give a public reading, followed by a question-and-answer period, at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17 in OSU’s Patricia Valian Reser Center for the Creative Arts (PRAx), which opens April 6.

The Stone Award, which includes a $20,000 honorarium, recognizes major American authors with bodies of critically acclaimed work that influence multiple generations of writers, readers and thinkers. It was last awarded to writer and cartoonist Lynda Barry in 2021.

“In keeping with our previous Stone Award recipients, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s selection points to the crucial role that telling stories, and teaching our students to tell stories, plays in the College of Liberal Arts,” College of Liberal Arts Dean Larry Rodgers said. “Like Kimmerer, we are committed to addressing the most challenging and fraught issues around residing together as humans on a precious, fragile planet.”

Kimmerer is best known for her bestselling book “Braiding Sweetgrass,” in which she explores the reciprocal relationship between humanity and the natural world, and the need for greater ecological awareness.

Her first book, “Gathering Moss,” was published by Oregon State University Press and teaches readers about how mosses live and are intertwined with other living things, both in scientific terms as well as in the framework of Indigenous ways of knowing.

“Robin Wall Kimmerer is not merely a writer; she’s a scientist, a storyteller and a philosopher. I can’t think of another author who examines the relationships between human and landscape with such wisdom and clarity — not to mention delight,” said Elena Passarello, associate professor and director of the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at OSU. “Welcoming her, and watching her interact with our students and community, is going to be the highlight of my year.”

During her visit to OSU, Kimmerer will meet with undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film. School director Tim Jensen said Kimmerer will also have an opportunity to connect with OSU students and faculty in the natural sciences about the importance of storytelling in engaging environmental issues.

“The shortest distance between two people is a story, and Kimmerer’s writing excels at bringing people together,” Jensen said.

Kimmerer is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the founder and director of its Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.

Organizers will collaborate with Tribal leaders to ensure access to the event for Tribal members.

The Stone Award is one of the largest prizes of its kind given by an American university. It was established in 2011 by Patrick and Vicki Stone with a gift to the OSU Foundation to spotlight OSU’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in the School of Writing, Literature and Film. Past award recipients include Colson Whitehead, Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff and Rita Dove.

For more information, visit https://liberalarts.oregonstate.edu/feature-story/2024-stone-award-winner-robin-wall-kimmerer.

About the OSU College of Liberal Arts: The College of Liberal Arts includes the fine and performing arts, humanities and social sciences, making it one of the largest and most diverse colleges at OSU. The college’s research and instructional faculty members contribute to the education of all university students and provide national and international leadership, creativity and scholarship in their academic disciplines.

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