Facebook as an Academic Resource? -- The Case of Brooke and Simon J. Ortiz

If you have to do research about a post-colonial poet who's living, where do you look?

Sophomore Brooke Sturdevant decided to try Facebook FIRST to look up Simon J. Ortiz and found that he was listed!

Here's the Facebook exchange.

From: Facebook
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 4:00 PM
Subject: Brooke Sturdevant sent you a message on Facebook...

Brooke sent you a message.

Brooke SturdevantApril 26, 2010 at 1:00pm
I live in Maui, Hawaii and I'm doing a massive report on your poetry. I was wondering if you could help me out by translating a selected amount of poetry and also giving me more information and a deeper connection to why you wrote some of your poetry. I was excited when I saw you had a Facebook because I can keep in touch with you easily. Please write back!
my email: (---@____) or just message me on Facebook.
Thanks for your time!

On Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 8:07 PM, simon ortiz <-----@_____> wrote:

Hi, Brooke,
Thanks for your FB message about needing help for a project.
You ask at a bad time since this is the end of spring term at ASU where I am a professor.  Term papers are due and exams are upcoming.  No time for anything else but that.

I have the feeling you need considerable help for your "massive report" on my poetry.  Translation takes a lot of work and a long time.  Trust me since I experienced it which is why I don't do much translation.

I apologize I will not be able to help.  If you ask at the beginng of a semester, that's always much, much better.
All best, Simon Ortiz, Professor, Department of English, Arizona State University


Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2010 3:30 PM
Subject: Re: Brooke Sturdevant sent you a message on Facebook...

Thanks for replying! I understand that you are busy but could you answer one question?
Why did you become a poet?


Hi, Brooke,
Thank you for understanding.
I don't think I necessarily became a poet.  Language is part of the human physiological and cultural substance and structure of who we are as human-animal beings.  We communicate instinctually I believe whether by word, neurologically, physically, spiritually, or even in ways we don't really know nor understand.  Poetry is one of those ways since poetry is imbedded so deeply within our personal human psyche we do not know its origin.  Perhaps poetry--I think and feel--has to do in origin with the first moment of life.  Hmmmm.  That's quite a thought, isn't it?
All best, Simon

 Simon Ortiz, Professor, Department of English, Arizona State University


What does Brooke think about all of this? She's simply amazed! She says that the poet's highly personal and thoughtful response MAKES her paper, and she's so appreciative that he took the time to write her.

Thanks to Brooke for allowing me to share this exchange with the world, and thanks to Simon J. Ortiz, one of today's most important Native American poets, for his generosity.