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Professor Emeritus Claude Smith returns to Ada for English Reading Series

Smith emphasized his passion for culture during the first event in the ONU Department of English 2016-17 Reading Series. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Smith emphasized his passion for culture during the first event in the ONU Department of English 2016-17 Reading Series. (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Acquaintances made in college can forever influence your life. That’s precisely what happened to Ohio Northern University Professor Emeritus of English Claude Clayton “Bud” Smith after meeting popular poets N. Scott Momaday and Yuri Vaella. 

That life-long friendship has resulted in Smith's recently published "Meditations After the Bear Fest: The Poetic Dialogues of N. Scott Momaday and Yuri Vaella." The book recounts the first acquaintance of poets from Native-American and Native-Siberian cultures and realizing their shared cultures and passion for the natural world. 

Smith returned to campus on September 21 for a special reading and celebration that kicked off the ONU Department of English's 2016-17 English Reading Series

A jack-of-all-trades writer, Smith specializes in three genres--poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. He has authored eight books, including "Ohio Outback: Learning to Love the Great Black Swamp," "The Stratford Devil" and "Lapping America: A Man, a Corvette, and the Interstates." He retired from ONU in 2006 after spending two decades in the classroom. 

Smith's retirement work has centered on being a renowned translator and editing several works, including the book that examines the kinship between Momaday and Vaella, and the cultural divide between the Native-American and Native-Siberian societies. The book has inspired a call for future intercontinental collaborations of indigenous writers. 

While reading a variety of poems from the book, Smith explained his admiration for his literature colleagues. Both writers died from forms of cancer, and the former ONU professor became passionate in his pursuit--even in his retirement--to showcase his old friends. 

"The book has become an eulogy. It's also an encouragement for young Native-American writers to keep doing what they love to do," said Smith to the audience in the gallery exhibition room of ONU's Elzay Gallery of Art

He also explained his goals as the book's editor and translator: 

As an editor and translator, I don't change the original work. I polish the original language--only to make it more engaging for all audiences."

Smith was accompanied by senior chemistry and creative writing student Sofie Moeller, who read a variety of poetry she has worked on during her undergraduate education. Her poetry will be featured in her senior-year capstone project. Moeller moved to Ohio from her native Denmark during high school. Her poetry collection focuses on her rich culture, working well with Smith’s discussion on the Native-American and Native-Siberian principles.

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The ONU English Department's 2016-17 Reading Series is being coordinated by Assistant Professor of English Jennifer Moore. The next event is scheduled for November 15 at 7 p.m. in the Elzay Gallery of Art, featuring visiting poet and University of Akron professor Mary Biddinger. In addition, senior creative writing student Kasy Long will read a selection of her work at the event.