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Kamala Platt author's photo

Dr. Kamala Platt's first decade was shaped by family legacies in human rights work and life on the prairie in rural Kansas. She began writing as she learned to read, and her mother, herself a writer, encouraged her daughter's interest through a summer class with octogenarian poet Cora M. Nicodemus. Subsequently, Platt has studied poetry with Beinvenido N. Santos, Victor Contoski, Keith Ratzlaff, Raylene Hinz-Penner, Howard McCord and Al Young, among others.

In 1970, her family returned to Orissa, India where her parents had married in the late 1950s. There, Kamala met the woman after whom she is named, and others who were part of the AFSC Barpali Village Service Project's extended community. Mennonite voluntary service camps afforded her continued trans-cultural growth when her family returned to the U.S.; her first "official" teaching was in a Cheyenne Arapahoe summer school.

Platt began working with public art projects, in particular, murals, helped with the founding of The Peace Museum, and taught in the Westside's Public Arts Workshop. After graduation from Bethel College, where Platt earned degrees in art, international development and religion, she returned to Chicago to enter an Interdisciplinary Arts Education graduate program at Columbia College. Her decision to seek an MFA in Creative Writing led her to Bowling Green State University in Ohio where she worked toward self-definition as a writer in a world torn apart by war and injustice. Completing her MFA in poetry, and interested in the theory that adhered art to life, Platt moved to Austin, Texas, for a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Texas; in addition to her coursework, Platt learned much from Austin's south and eastside communities: the Catfish Poet's Society, PODER, and Raúl R. Salinas' Resistencia Bookstore where in 1997 she defended her dissertation.

Much of the past two decades Dr. Platt spent in south Texas studying and/or teaching in academic departments--English, Bi-Cultural Bilingual Studies, and Women's Studies. Besides Westside, San Antonio, where Platt has established a permanent residence, she lived in New York City for two years, while teaching at Nassau Community College; in Eugene, Oregon, while researching women's environmental justice cultural poetics through University of Oregon's Center for the Study of Women in Society; in Albuquerque's South Valley, while at University of New Mexico, where she received support for further environmental justice research; and in the Rio Grande Valley, where she currently teaches at the University of Texas-Pan American.

She has also, for the last half decade, directed the Meadowlark Center in Kansas, located on a rural acreage where Platt's grandmother had built Meadowlark Homestead in the 1950s The Meadowlark Center hosts community arts, education, environment and social justice projects and events, and is revitalizing original passive solar design buildings, and restoring prairie and riparian habitat in line with the land's natural history. It offers alternative programming, meeting and exhibit space for both surrounding communities and eco-justice communities more broadly.

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