Short review of the Ethnic American Literature course at UCO in Edmond, Oklahoma

The University of Central Oklahoma has recently hired Dr. Iliana Rocha, whose debut book, Karankawa, won the 2014 Donald Hall Prize in poetry. Along with her Creating the Poem class of her inaugural year, she also taught Ethnic American Literature. It may be safe to say to the reader that Oklahoma has a strong cultural vibrancy strongly linked to Indigenous People, and we certainly must not forget the struggle of our African-American brothers and sisters who suffered one of the most violent race riots in Tulsa, and of course all other peoples facing oppression in these confusing times.

Past events, not only in Oklahoma, but throughout the nation have and will forever be a solidified presence (as it should) in literature. Having said that, the syllabus for Dr. Rocha’s Ethnic American Literature course in Fall 2016 took me on a roller coaster of emotions and offered a new lens and perception into reality of America I had subconsciously put on the backburner, as a white male–while coping with my own struggle transitioning from soldier to student. To read poetry and feel its struggle to be a voice from the lens of war in its purity. Below is the reading list of the course, which if you love literature and rollercoastered emotions, then you should pick these up!

Translating Mo’um by Cathy Park Hong

Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua

Please by Jericho Brown

Look by Solmaz Sharif

She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo

Hum by Jamaal May

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (this was our novel we covered)

Dinosaurs in the Hood by Danez Smith

We also read several short stories, flash fiction, and studied some spoken word poetry. I am very fortunate to have taken this course; otherwise, I may not have read the war poetry of Solmaz Sharif, or the multiple narrators found in Jericho Brown’s Please. This thought has now opened not only my understanding to an oppressed group in a clearer way, but it has shaped my own writing and my hopes of being a voice for the voiceless.

With love and hope,

JB Barnett

Joshua Barnett
Joshua Barnett
Assistant Director at New Plains Review
Joshua Barnett is a Creative Writing graduate student at the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to his academia career, he served as an infantryman in OIF for the US Army. He has been an editor for New Plains Review for two years, and looks forward to seeing the journal expand and take on new endeavors.

2 thoughts on “Short review of the Ethnic American Literature course at UCO in Edmond, Oklahoma”

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