Oklahoma Writers: A Literary Tableau

Oklahoma Writers: A Literary Tableau was on exhibit at the Oklahoma History Center in 2012. Although the exhibit has closed, many of the resources have been archived on this site. Visit the Writers section for biographies, interviews, and more.

Curator Teresa Miller concluded the exhibit with the following text:

In the musical Oklahoma! (1943) Rodgers and Hammerstein idealize the state, depicting it as a land of opportunity, "where corn grows as high as an elephant's eye." But in his novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), John Steinbeck provides a very different perspective, portraying an Oklahoma so ravaged by the Dust Bowl that "Okies" abandon their heritage in order to seek refuge in unfamiliar territory.

These powerful word images, reinforced by classic movie adaptations, have encharged Oklahoma writers with a unique responsibility—re-envisioning Oklahoma beyond any lingering stereotypes. It's a calling they have embraced from a number of genres, as varied as the Oklahoma landscape itself. And ultimately they have provided us with the beginnings of a literary topography, extending from the dark reaches of mystery to the brighter realms of poetry and song.