Diné Readers

Visited April 2022

Diné Reader Celebration, featuring Luci Tapahonso, the first Navajo Nation Poet Laureate; Laura Tohe, current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate; award-winning poet Sherwin Bitsui; and poet and anthology co-editor The Diné Reader book coverEsther Belin.

On campus we celebrated the publication of the ​Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature, the groundbreaking anthology of ​Diné poetry, published by the University of Arizona Press. The anthology "showcases the breadth, depth, and diversity of Diné creative artists and their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction prose. This wide-ranging anthology brings together writers who offer perspectives that span generations and perspectives on life and Diné history. The collected works display a rich variety of creativity in themes: home and history; contemporary concerns about identity, historical trauma, loss of language; and economic and environmental inequalities."

Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation Poet LaureateLaura Tohe is Diné/Navajo. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. She holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous American Literature. A librettist and an award-winning poet, she has written six books, including an oral history book on the Navajo Code Talkers. Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, was performed by the Phoenix Symphony and Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World was performed in France 2019 and 2021. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction at Arizona State University, is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and awarded an Academy of American Poetry Fellowship in 2020-2021.


Luci Tapahonso, inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation 2013-2015Luci Tapahonso is professor emerita of English Literature (University of New Mexico 2016) and served as the inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation (2013-2015). She is the author of three children’s books and six books of poetry including A Radiant Curve which received the 2008 Arizona Book Award for poetry.

Recent literary recognitions include the 2021 Ostana (Italy) Prize: an international award which honors authors who write in their mother tongue, and the delivery of the keynote address at the 5th Annual Taos (N.M.) Writers Conference. Tapahonso will also receive the 2021 Distinguished Literary Achievement Award by the Western Literature Association at its 2022 conference. In 2020, she was an Artist-in-Their-Residence Fellow hosted by the Bosque Redondo Fort Sumner Memorial Museum and recorded a poem for Living Nations, Living Words: A Map of First Peoples Poetry for the U.S. Library of Congress. Her poems published in When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (2020, A Norton Anthology) and The Dine Reader (2020, University of Arizona Press). Tapahonso’s poems were also featured on “The Slow Down with Tracy K. Smith” (Episode #263, 2019. American Public Media and Poetry Foundation) and “Poem-a-Day,” (August 2020, Academy of American Poets). She wrote the script for the exhibition “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art” for the American Heritage Gallery at Walt Disney World's Epcot in Florida.

Professor Tapahonso has delivered keynote addresses at several conferences and institutions including Harvard University, Gallup Central High School, Kenyon College, Institute of American Indian Arts, the Tbisili International Literature Festival in the Republic of Georgia and at the University of New Zealand at Auckland and Wellington.

Esther Belin, co editor of The Diné ReaderEsther Belin is an urban Indian, born at an Indian Health Service hospital in Gallup, New Mexico and raised in the greater Los Angeles area.  When recently asked how she became a writer, she explained, “writing was a coping mechanism.”  Belin has been using writing to cope with the everyday macroaggressions of racialized trauma, oppression and general ignorance about Indian tribes and people in the United States.   She has two poetry collections, From the Belly of My Beauty, and Of Cartography, both published by the University of Arizona Press.  She and three others edited an anthology of Navajo Literature, The Diné Reader.  Belin is a faculty mentor in the Institute of American Indian Arts Low-Rez MFA program.  She is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and lives on the Colorado side of the 4 corners region.

Sherwin Bitsui, author of ShapeshiftSherwin Bitsui (Diné) is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the author of Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003), Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), and Dissolve (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). His honors include a Lannan Foundation Poetry Fellowship and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. He is also the recipient of a 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Award. He teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and joined the faculty at Northern Arizona University in the fall of 2019.

Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr

Visited April 2022

Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr is the chair and Tilikum Professor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University. His scholarly publications include chapters for collections such as Seeing Red: Hollywood's Pixelated Skins, and Visualities: Perspectives on Contemporary American Indian Film and Art, both from Michigan State University Press, as well as The Routledge Companion to Native American Literature and The Routledge Handbook of Critical Indigenous Studies. His research focuses on contemporary Indigenous literature and film as well as Native spirituality and its connections to land, health, and environment. His mosaic novel about sort of growing up in Chicago, Sacred Smokes, winner of the 2019 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing, is now in its second printing. His next book, Sacred City, was published in November of 2021, also by the University of New Mexico Press, who released his edited volume The Faster Redder Road: The Best UnAmerican Stories of Stephen Graham Jones. He is the Creative Editor for Transmotion (a journal of postmodern indigenous studies) and an Active Horror Writers Association member. 

Stephen Graham Jones

Visited November 2021

Stephen Graham Jones is the NYT bestselling author of nearly thirty novels and collections, and there's some novellas and comic books in there as well. Most recent are The Only Good Indians, Night of the Mannequins, and My Heart is a Chainsaw. Stephen lives and teaches in Boulder, Colorado. 


Nick Estes

Visited September 2021

Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa) is assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He organizes with the Red Nation, an indigenous-led leftist organization committed to indigenous liberation. He is also part of the collective for Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics. His advocacy and research focus on indigenous resistance, anticolonialism, abolition, decolonization, and anticapitalism. He is the author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance (Verso, 2019). 

Melanie K. Yazzie

Visited September 2021

Melanie K. Yazzie (Diné) is an assistant professor in the Departments of Native American Studies and American Studies at the University of Minnesota. She organizes with the Red Nation, an indigenous-led leftist organization committed to indigenous liberation. She is lead editor of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, an international journal committed to public intellectualism and social justice. 


David Correia 

Visited September 2021

David Correia is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Properties of Violence: Law and Land Grant Struggle in Northern New Mexico (University of Georgia Press, 2013), and coauthor of Police: A Field Guide (Verso, 2018). 


Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange, author of There ThereVisited October 2020

Tommy Orange is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multigenerational, relentlessly paced story about a side of America few of us have ever seen: the lives of urban Native Americans. There There was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, and won the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Pen/Hemingway Award. There There was also long listed for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Orange graduated from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California. For more information on Tommy Orange, please visit www.prhspeakers.com.

Levi Romero

Levi Romero, AuthorVisited March 2020

Levi Romero, a bilingual poet whose language is immersed in the manito dialect of northern New Mexico, was named New Mexico’s first Poet Laureate in February. His work has been published throughout the United States, Mexico, Spain and Cuba. His poem writing exercise, “Where I’m From, De donde yo soy,” based on the original poem, “Where I’m From,” by George Ella Lyon, was published by Scholastic as part of a nationwide educational project and has been used extensively both nationally and internationally. Levi Romero’s most recent book is Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland (co­authored with Spencer Herrera and Robert Kaiser). His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.

Anna Walters

Anna WaltersVisited February 2020

Anna Walters’ roots are in Plains Tribal groups, but she has lived in the Southwest most of her adult life. She is the author of the novels Ghost Singer and Vows and also writes short fiction and poetry. Walters teaches at Diné College in Arizona. The calling to “take care of” old and new has been inside of her since a very early age. It is what she means to do for the rest of her life. Toward that end, she created Soje Publishing (https://sojepublishing.com), which is not so much an author’s website, as it is a community website for Native American stories and storytellers.

Tristan Ahtone

Tristan Ahtone, AuthorVisited December 2019

Tristan Ahtone is a member of the Kiowa Tribe and serves as associate editor for tribal affairs at High Country News. He has reported for PBS NewsHour, Frontline, National Native News, Wyoming Public Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera America, Indian Country Today, and National Geographic. Tristan’s stories have won multiple honors, including investigative awards from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Gannett Foundation. He additionally was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to study at Harvard University in 2017. He is president of the Native American Journalists Association.