Smoker is a member of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes, and grew up on the Fort Peck Reservation in northeastern Montana. She composes “free verse poems that focus on personal struggle and identity and engage Native American history, language, and culture. As Smoker noted in a From the Fishouse audio recording, ‘[B]eing a poet allows me to interact and observe and be a witness to so many things that go on in the world around us, large things that go on in our community but also things that happen in our day-to-day lives, and I’m very honored to have the chance and the opportunity to slow down occasionally and pay attention to those things that can sometimes get lost in the greater scheme of things and in our lives.’”
Sherman Alexie praises Smoker’s work as “tough, funny, magical, but not in a goofy way. This is blue-collar magic. Unemployed magic. Living on government cheese magic. I highly recommend this collection.”
Smoker studied at the universities of Montana, Los Angeles and Colorado, with fellowships every step of the way. In addition to her own poetry, she co-edited the 2009 collection, I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights. She cites as influences John Steinbeck, James Welch and Philip Levine, and currently lives in Helena where she works in the Indian Education Division of the Office of Public Instruction.
Smoker will visit with Park High School students on Thursday, February 12, then give a public reading that evening upstairs at Elk River Books, 120 N. Main St. at 7 p.m. The reading is free, and will be followed by a reception and signing. The events are co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel.
Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and also to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students. More information is available at elkriverarts.org.