Native Poet Elise Paschen

Native Poet Elise Paschen

Award-Winning Osage Poet Elise Paschen Will Read at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

Award-winning Chicago poet and editor Elise Paschen, descendant of an Osage Indian chief, will read from her recent work at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, October 20, at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston, Illinois.

Paschen will read from Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009), her most recent book of original poetry, including the poem “Wi’-gi-e,” the Osage word for “prayer.”

She’ll also unveil new, unpublished poems, including one based on a visit to a nature center on Chicago’s Northwest Side. She describes the work as “part of a sequence of poems inspired by the natural world.”

Another of Paschen’s collections of original poetry, Infidelities (Story Line Press, 1996), won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. She was the featured Illinois poet at the 2006 National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress. In 2011 she was a featured poet in Fifth Wednesday Journal, an independent literary magazine.

Executive director of the Poetry Society of America from 1988 to 2001, Paschen co-founded Poetry in Motion, a nationwide program which places poetry posters in subways and buses. She edited the New York Times best-selling anthology Poetry Speaks to Children (Sourcebooks, 2005).

Born and raised in Chicago, Paschen is the daughter of legendary Osage prima ballerina Maria Tallchief.

She graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree and went on to earn a master’s and doctorate in 20th-century British and American literature at Oxford University in England, where she co-founded the publication Oxford Poetry.

Paschen’s poems have been published in The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Shenandoah, among other magazines, and in numerous anthologies, including Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America.

A May 2011 profile in Harvard Magazine noted, “At times the poet’s Osage heritage shines through the words, and one finds in her language the kind of hard-won grace her mother achieved in dance.”

Paschen has been a Frances C. Allen Fellow at Chicago’s Newberry Library, where she researched Osage history. She teaches writing in the master of fine arts program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A reception with light refreshments will follow Paschen’s poetry reading.

Admission to the event is $12 for the general public, $10 for Mitchell Museum members, in addition to regular museum admission of $5 for adults, $3 for children (ages 1- 17), students (with ID), teachers (with ID), and seniors (age 65+). Museum admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members.

The independent nonprofit Mitchell Museum is located at 3001 Central St., Evanston. For information, phone (847) 475-1030, email or visit the website:


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Award-Winning Osage Poet Elise Paschen Will Read at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian