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‘Thunderous’: M.L. Smoker and Natalie Peeterse co-author graphic novel about Indigenous teen

Mandy Smoker Broaddus (M.L. Smoker, left) and Natalie Peeterse (right), co-authors of ‘Thunderous.’
Mandy Smoker Broaddus (M.L. Smoker, left) and Natalie Peeterse (right), co-authors of ‘Thunderous.’

This week on ‘The Write Question,’ Lauren speaks with poets Mandy Smoker Broaddus (M.L. Smoker) and Natalie Peeterse, co-authors of Thunderous (Dynamite Entertainment), a graphic novel about Aiyana, a Lakota teenager trying to fit in with her high school peers, and in doing so, chooses to reject her Indigenous heritage.

About Mandy:

Mandy Smoker Broaddus (M. L. Smoker) belongs to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation in north-eastern Montana. Her current work focuses on the work of equity and inclusion for Native education in the Pacific Northwest. She was formerly the Director of Indian Education for the Montana Office of Public Instruction where she saw statewide efforts related to closing the achievement gap and Indian Education for All. In 2015, she was named the Indian Educator of Year by the National Indian Education Association. She was also appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Barack Obama. She has won a regional Emmy award for her work as a producer on the PBS documentary, Indian Relay. She has also published one collection of poetry titled Another Attempt at Rescue and co-edited an anthology of poems titled I Go to the Ruined Place: Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights.

About Natalie:

Natalie Peeterse is the co-author of the graphic novel Thunderous. Her poetry chapbook Black Birds : Blue Horse, An Elegy won the Gold Line Press Poetry Prize in 2011. A second poetry chapbook, Dreadful : Luminosity, Letters, was published by Educe Press in the spring of 2017. She was included in I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press), and several other anthologies. She has an MFA from the University of Montana and has been a fellow with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, a participant at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, an artist in residence at the Caldera Institute, a participant in the 2018 US Poets in Mexico in Merida, Yucatan and most recently a Visiting Scholar at the University of Washington’s Whiteley Center at the Friday Harbor Laboratories. She is a recipient of the 2013 Artist Innovation Award by the Montana Arts Council. She lives in Helena, Montana where she works on Open Country Press.

Mandy Smoker Broaddus recommends:

Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry edited by Joy Harjo (W. W. Norton & Company)

The Crossover, a graphic novel by Kwame Alexander (illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile; Clarion Books)

Natalie Peeterse recommends:

New Grass on the Golden Sunlight Mine by Noelle Sullivan (Open Country Press)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Another Attempt at Rescue by M.L. Smoker (Hanging Loose Press)

Dreadful : Luminosity, Letters by Natalie Peeterse (Educe Press)

I Go to the Ruined Place: Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights edited by Melissa Kwasny and M.L. Smoker (Lost Horse Press)

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Chris Moyles, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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