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Elise Paschen’s ‘Tallchief’ tops Oklahoma Best Sellers List

The collection of poems by the renowned Osage poet is about her mother, the late legendary ballerina Maria Tallchief.

Elise Paschen’s new book, “Tallchief,” topped the Oklahoma Best Sellers list for the week of Nov. 12.

The collection of poems by the renowned Osage poet is about her mother, the late legendary ballerina Maria Tallchief. The book was released on Oct. 29 by Magic City Books Press in Tulsa at the Maria Tallchief Quarter Celebration at the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum.  

“We are proud to publish Elise Paschen and honor the legacy of Maria Tallchief for our inaugural release,” said Magic City Books President and Co-Founder Jeff Martin.

“Tallchief” includes the poem “Wi’-gi-e,” which inspired the title for David Grann’s book and Martin Scorsese’s film, “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“Elise Paschen is an essential voice for our times,” Grann said. “Her powerful words will not only stir you; they will change the way you see the world.”

Paschen, an enrolled member of the Osage Nation, is the author of “The Nightlife,” “Bestiary,” “Infidelities” (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and “Houses: Coasts.” As an undergraduate at Harvard, she received the Garrison Medal for poetry. She holds M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees from Oxford University.

Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including “Poetry Magazine,” “When the Light of the World Was Subdued,” “Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry” and “The Best American Poetry.” She is the editor of “The Eloquent Poem” and has edited or co-edited numerous other anthologies, including The New York Times best-seller, “Poetry Speaks.”

Paschen teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Oklahoma Best Sellers List is based on the total number of sales at Tulsa’s Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

“Tallchief” can be purchased at Magic City Books, located at 221 E. Archer St. in Tulsa, or purchased online.

Elise Paschen’s new collection of poems, “Tallchief,” topped the Oklahoma Best Sellers list for the week of Nov. 12. Courtesy Photo/Magic City Books Instagram

Maria Tallchief (1925 – 2013) was born to Alex and Ruth Porter Tallchief in Fairfax and as a young girl excelled at dance and playing piano. In 1933, Alex and Ruth moved Maria and her sister Marjorie to California where they began more formalized ballet training under Ernest Belcher and later Bronislava Nijinska, a respected Russian dancer and choreographer, and sister to the esteemed Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky.

After graduating from Beverly Hills High School at the age of 17, Maria went to New York and earned a spot in the preeminent Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. George Balanchine, an acclaimed Russian dancer and choreographer, joined the company in 1943. Maria and Balanchine married in 1946 and the couple went on to originate some of the most iconic roles still performed in ballet today, including Swan Lake, Orpheus, The Firebird, and The Nutcracker. Although the couple’s marriage was annulled, together they revolutionized ballet in America and continued to work together during the rise of the New York City Ballet as a leader in the ballet world. 

In 1956, Maria married Henry “Buzz” Paschen – her “blue-eyed sailor,” as she called him. Their daughter, Elise, was born in 1959. Tallchief retired from performing in the 1960s and founded the ballet school of the Lyric Opera and served as artistic director at the Chicago City Ballet.


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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Duty

Title: Editor


Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.

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