Application/Nomination To the TallMountain Award

Award for Creative Writing and Community Service

About the Awards

The TallMountain awards for creative writing and community service are distributed annually to low-income writers who display artistic merit and who contribute to the development of their communities. Preference is given to Native Americans, homeless persons and residents of the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. We accept applications directly and also welcome nominations submitted by persons other than the proposed awardee.

The TallMountain Circle will also consider applications from groups or orgainizations for projects which serve low-income and emerging writers. Final decisions on awards are made by the Advisory board: Paula Gunn Allen, Ben Clarke, Kitty Costello, Judith St. George, Beth Saunders, Yvonne Yarber.

When to apply
Grants are awarded each fall. The deadline for applications is generally September 1.

Grant Awards
Typical grant awards range from $100 to $500 depending on the availability of resources and the number of awards granted.

How to Apply
Print out and then fill out the application/nomination form below and send it via POSTAL MAIL ONLY, along with samples of writing or other relevant documentation to the TallMountain Circle. P.O. Box 423115, San Francisco, CA 94142. Writing samples should be 5 - 15 pages in length, typed and double spaced. For group proposals, submit an organizational description and project proposal. Questions about application procedures should be directed to the same address.



Organization (if applicable):



Date of Birth:

Ethnic Background:

Preference is given to low-income writers, particularly from San Francisco's Tenderloin District and Native American communities. Please describe how you or your group/project meet these criteria:

Please Describe your background in writing and community service.

How would the grant award be used to further your writing or project.

Please enclose a writing sample of 5 - 15 pages. Published or unpublished poetry, fiction and essays are welcome. MAIL TO: TallMountain Circle. P.O. Box 423115, San Francisco, CA 94142.

About Mary TallMountain

Some Information
Mary TallMountainHer spirit and her ability to connect the different worlds of her experience teach us much about how to live our lives properly."
Barry Lopez

"Her poetry is a permanent testament to the rich tapestry of experience that was her life."
Bill Moyers

Mary TallMountain was a Native Alaskan writer and elder who lived for many years in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. She is remembered for her generous encouragement of aspiring writers of all ages, from inner-city San Francisco to remote villages in Alaska where she taught poetry to children in her later years.

She was born in 1918 in Nulato, a village along the Yukon River in Alaska, to a Koyukon/Athabaskan mother and a Scots/Irish father. When her mother became terminally ill, Mary was adopted by a non-Native couple and taken away from her village. Traumatized first by losing her family and homeland, then by the harshness of mainstream American culture, she felt like an angry outsider for many years. Writing was a way of going home, of reclaiming her ancestry, her family and her homeland, and a way of claiming her own proud native voice. Her stories and poems portray life along the Yukon River and her removal from that land. Her work also captures tender images of street life in inner city San Francisco.

For more than 20 years, TallMountain was active in the Native American literature renaissance. Her poems and stories have been published in dozens of anthologies and periodicals nationwide, including The Language of Life, The Harpers Anthology of Twentieth Century Native American Poetry, The Alaska Quarterly, and Animals Agenda.She read for audiences throughout California and Alaska, and her work is used in teaching Native American Studies at many colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 1989, TallMountain was interviewed by Bill Moyers and read for his PBS poetry series called The Power of the Word. Her work has been collected in book form inThe Light on the Tent Wall, (UCLA Press, 1990) and A Quick Brush of Wings (Freedom Voices, 1991), as well as the posthumous collection Listen To the Night(Freedom Voices, 1995). For many years she wrote a column called "Meditations for Wayfarers" in the Franciscan publication The Way. The Rasmussen Library at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks houses an archival collection of TallMountain's published and unpublished works.