Sherman Alexie was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1966 and grew up in Wellpinit, Washington, on the Spokane Indian Reservation. A Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, he attended Gonzaga University and received his BA in American studies from Washington State University. He now lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and son.
Alexie has published twelve books of fiction and poetry, including Indian Killer, The Business of Fancydancing, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, The Summer of Black Widows, and Reservation Blues. He has also received grants from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.
He recently wrote the screenplay for and coproduced Smoke Signals, a feature film produced by ShadowCatcher Entertainment and released by Miramax Films to great acclaim in 1998. It was the first feature film written, directed, and coproduced by American Indians to be nationally and internationally distributed.
About his work, Alexie writes: "I think my whole career has been about the effort to write accessible work, and by accessible, I mean I want my work to be understood and even enjoyed by the average twelve-year-old Indian kid growing up on some reservation or another.
"I recently had the experience of helping to create a movie that has been viewed by over a million people. Let me say that again. One million people. By my own estimates, I figure that ten thousand Indians have read one of my books. That's approximately one half of I percent of the total American Indian population. One year after our film premieres on home video, I would estimate that 90 percent of Indians will have seen Smoke Signals. I have come to understand that films are a populist art form, as opposed to the elitist art forms of poetry and literary fiction.
"So, what am I trying to say here? I want my poems and stories to resonate with the people, all of the people, and not just those who buy six or seven slim volumes of poetry a year. Hell, maybe stand-up comedy is the way to go. I'll just make sure the punch lines are in iambic pentameter."
Talvikki Ansel was born in 1962 and writes: "After receiving my MFA in creative writing from Indiana University, I was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing at Stanford University. My Shining Archipelago was selected by James Dickey for the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1996 and published by Yale University Press.