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SkyWords welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

SkyWords welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

The SkyWords Visiting Writers Series will host Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natalie Diaz for on-campus events Tuesday, April 12 (POSTPONED). Diaz was selected as the 2022 Common Reading Experience author.

Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press, and her second book, Postcolonial Love Poem, was published by Graywolf Press in March 2020 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2021.

The SkyWords Visiting Writers Series connects students and the Durango community with emerging and established writers in dialogue about the power of story. Established in 2019, SkyWords provides a space for engagement in discussion about narrative, writing craft, and the big ideas engaging our culture. 

“When I teach Diaz's poetry, I love watching the students find their way into her poetry, which inspires students to write their own work centering and honoring their perspectives and experiences,” says Candace Nadon, assistant professor of English. “Poetry has a physicality, and there is real energy in Diaz's words; that’s something students can relate to.”

"I felt the cultural pride and connectedness to nature and the body she writes about along with the humor she would occasionally input,” says Sepphora Llanes, a senior majoring in Anthropology. “This book has inspired me to write about my culture as well and in new techniques."

Several events in April are planned for dialogue around Postcolonial Love Poem. FLC community members can pick up a free copy of Diaz’s prizewinning collection at the Provost’s Office in Berndt Hall.

“In an interview with The Guardian, Diaz writes that 'In Mojave, our words for want and need are the same – because why would you want what you don’t need?' I think Diaz's work is a testament to the need for metaphor and story. We are really fortunate to have Natalie come to our campus,” Nadon emphasizes.

Schedule of events

  • A Community Book Discussion will be hosted at the Durango Public Library on Tuesday, April 5 at 6 p.m. This community-wide conversation will be led by FLC faculty in the English Department and is supported by Kathleen Adams and Richard Ballantine.
  • POSTPONED - Diaz will visit Fort Lewis College on Tuesday, April 12 for two events: a student-focused Q&A session at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Vallecito Room, followed that evening by a public reading and book signing at 6 p.m. in the Ballroom. These campus events are made possible by funding from the Zeller Natural Pathways Foundation.
  • Lastly, a SkyWords Student Creative Writing reading will be held Thursday, April 14 at 4 p.m. at the Busby Amphitheater, with support from Austin Trembley.

“It has been incredible to see the growth of our SkyWords Visiting Writers Series over the last couple of years. Under the guidance of Dr. Nadon, we have brought in major authors whose transformative work facilitates growth and engagement for FLC students,” says Dean of Arts and Sciences Jesse Peters. “Most importantly, we have focused on bringing in Native American authors, especially for the Common Read programming. These voices are central to the mission and goals of Fort Lewis, and I am also so happy to see the positive engagement within the Durango community and beyond.” 

"Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness."

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