M.L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse’s Thunderous

Montana poets M.L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse delve into the graphic novel form to tell a story of Lakota traditions in their new book, Thunderous, which they will discuss at Elk River Books on Thursday, July 7. A book signing and reception will follow.

Thunderous is the story of Lakota teenager Aiyana who believes that her Lakota heritage and past life on the reservation need to be left behind in order to fit in. She pushes away her family and their cultural ways to seek acceptance with her new classmates, but a mishap during a field trip to Black Elk Peak — the vision quest site of the famed Lakota spiritual leader — transports Aiyana into a world of talking animals, both guides and tricksters, where she faces a quest of her own that challenges and transforms her.

“It’s a story about a really reluctant hero,” says Smoker. “She’s got to figure things out for herself to be the hero of her own story and to really begin to think about others.”

Smoker and Peeterse, are both Helena-based poets. Smoker is a member of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes, and has published the poetry collection Another Attempt at Rescue. She works as the Indian Education Practice Expert for Portland-based Education Northwest, and co-served as Montana poet laureate with Melissa Kwasny. Peeterse, who co-operates Open Country Press, has published two collections: Black Birds: Blue Horse, An Elegy and Dreadful: Luminosity. She is a recipient of the Artist Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council.

The artwork for Thunderous was created by Dale Deforest, a Navajo illustrator and graphic designer, with cover art provided by Barcelona-based artist Oriol Vidal.

The free event will take place at 7 p.m. at Elk River Books, 122 S. 2nd St. in Livingston.

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