William Penn (W.S.)

November 19, 1999

William Penn (W.S.)
William S. Penn's collection of narrative essays, All My Sins Are Relatives, won the 1995 North American Indian Prose Award. He has also published a collection of short stories, This is the World; and a novel, Killing Time with Strangers, which won the 2001 American Book Award for Literary Merit. His most recent collection of narrative essays, Feathering Custer, was released in 2001.

He is the editor of As We Are Now: Mixblood Essays on Race and Identity, and The Telling of the World: Native American Stories and Art. He has been the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts award; the Stephen Crane Prize for Fiction; a Michigan Arts Council award; and Writer of the Year in 1997 and Editor of the Year in 1998, both from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. His book, The Telling of the World: Native American Stories and Art, was named to the list of Best University Press Books of 2000.

W.S. Penn is a Native American writer and professor of English at Michigan State University. In 2003, he received a Distinguished Faculty Award from MSU. He likes to use the term "mixblood" to describe his own background, which is a mixture of Nez Perce, Osage and English. He was raised in Southern California where he attended Claremont College. He earned his undergraduate degree at UC Davis and stayed on for three years of graduate school, from 1970 to 1973. He later earned his doctorate at Syracuse.

"In This Is The World, Penn moves through spaces, encounters characters, and confronts humanity with a sage's omnipotence, yet at the same time with an unassuming voice, devoid of pretentiousness. His words are unflinching, but also unselfconscious." -MSU Press

To view Special Collections' holdings of W.S. Penn's work, please click here.

To hear Penn read from his own work, please visit the Vincent Voice Library, here.

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Last Updated: March 12, 2010