Reading it was a delight. I wanted others to read it, too. When the We Need Diverse Books team was preparing for its summer reading series, I made sure Greg's book was part of it. Here's the image they used:
Just a few days ago, I listed Chukfi as one of AICL's Best Books of 2014. Greg was a new voice in children's literature. I looked forward to what else he'd be giving us.
Earlier today, I was shocked to learn that Greg passed away last night. Below are Tim Tingle's thoughts, used with his permission:
Here are some thoughts beginning that strange piece of writing we call “obituary.”
As a writer Greg Rodgers authored three books, “The Ghost of Mingo Creek and Other Spooky Oklahoma Legends,” “One Dark Night in Oklahoma,” and the highly popular children’s book, “Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache,” plus dozens of yet-to-be-published stories. Over the holidays Greg intended to focus on his upcoming novel, a powerful and difficult piece of Choctaw historical fiction, the story of Hotema, a protestant preacher who died in prison.
As an oral performer Greg was a quiet genius, ushering the audience down a path of faith and fear and always ending in triumph of the good. Those fortunate enough to have seen him perform his Trail of Tears story, “Harriet’s Burden,” will never forget the experience. A tragic tale of heinous cruelty concludes with a depth of Choctaw spirituality rarely seen onstage.
With a mark of Choctaw humility, Greg was much more proud of his teachers than his own accomplishments. Among his favorite instructors were Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Geary and Barbara Hobson, LeAnne Howe, Clara Sue Kidwell, and Rilla Askew, a Who’s Who of American Indian authors.
Greg recently created a term, a “brand” which he hoped to promote: The Choctaw Literary Renaissance. He planned to discuss the emergence of contemporary Choctaw writers at a series of conference panels and discussions in the Spring of 2015.
I know in my heart that Greg will be with us for many years, as a Rabbit Trickster, a protective Panther, and a spirit Canine, with a friendly and supportive look for those who need one. He will arrive and be with us when we least expect him, at times described in the preface to his first and yet unpublished novel:
“Our Choctaw homelands speak to us in many voices. They are mostly soft and caring––summer rain dripping through a forest of tall pines, wind whistling across a mountain lake, rippling the waters––but on the worst of nights the land emits a terrible scream. Our places can feel pain, deep and connected to all. They know of death, and life, and death again.”
We already miss you more than you will ever know, Brother Greg. Too soon, you left us staggering far too soon. But we forgive you, on the sole condition that you work your magic through the fingers of young Choctaw writers, doing their best to continue your work. You are family to thousands of Choctaws, and Nahullos, too.