Sherman Alexie: Poet’s Biography Essay

May 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Alexie Sherman Journal Entry

Born and raised in the Spokane Indian Reservation region of Washington, Alexie Sherman has grown to be one of the renowned poets of his time in the United States. As one of the children in a family of six, Alexie Sherman encountered the challenges that ordinary families experience in the United States. His alcoholic father, who would sometimes stay away from home for days, presents a classic example of the challenges that some families in various parts of the world experience. Furthermore, Alexie’s challenges compounded because they lived in the Indian Reservation region, which is marginalized.

Another challenge that the young Alexie went through was the teasing that he received frequently in school. Berglund and Roush (2010) elucidate that due to his big head, which developed after birth, other kids teased him using names such as the globe. It is imperative to state that the big head of Alexie was a result of hydrocephalus, a condition that developed soon after birth and resulted in a successful surgery. Apparently, hydrocephalus is a condition associated with excess fluid in the head, which affects infants.

Despite the challenges, Alexie became one of the best students of his school based in the Reardan part of Washington. The excellence demonstrated by Alexie was regardless of him being the only native Indian in the school. In the Reardan High School Indians, he became an excellent basketball player, a factor that earned him the scholarship to be part of a Roman Catholic university, Gonzaga University, based in Spokane.

After unsuccessfully grappling with a range of fields such as medicine and law, he found his passion in literature and soon thereafter joined Washington State University to study under a Chinese-American poet, Alex Kuo. Grassian (2006) explains that during his time at Washington State University, Kuo gave him a book ‘Songs of this Earth on Turtle’s back’ whose author is Joseph Bruchac, which changed his perspective in literature, poetry, and arts. As such, it is fundamental to explain that the lessons from Kuo along with the pieces of literature that he gave to Alexie amplified his passion for literature and led to his eventual excellence in literature.

The roles that Alexie has played after his education in Gonzaga and Washington State universities have enabled him to be a renowned star in the field of literature. Alexie has won several awards such as the Odyssey Award and has written several books, which include ‘The Lone Ranger and the Tonto Fistfight in Heaven’. Apparently, the majority of his books and pieces of literature focus on the experiences of Native Americans, especially the Indians. According to Berglund and Roush (2010), the evidence of native themes in his pieces of literature is a justification of the experiences that Alexie went through as he grew up.

Significantly, Alexie brings the challenges of Native Americans to fore and educates other individuals in the United States on the effects of discrimination and the need to love one another. In conveying his message to the society, he employs humor, a factor that increases the scale of readership, while presenting the challenges evident in his themes. Apparently, by using literature to convey his messages, Alexie plays a momentous role in encouraging individuals from all parts of the world that they can excel in life regardless of their race, gender, or class in the society.


Berglund, J., & Roush, J. (2010). Sherman Alexie: A Collection of Critical Essays. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

Grassian, D. (2006). Understanding Sherman Alexie. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

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