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AZ Series Spotlights American Indian Writers

 TUCSON - Several University of Arizona offices have come together to launch a lecture series in honor of American Indian writers who will share their work with a general audience.

The "Poetics and Politics" series will launch Wednesday, Jan. 26 with a reading by UA Regents' Professor Ofelia Zepeda, a renowned Tohono O’odham poet and linguist.

The series is co-sponsored by the UA's English department, American Indian Studies, the UA Office of the President and the Poetry Center. All readings will be held at the UA Poetry Center at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

The series is part of a graduate literature seminar. Students in the course rely on the authors' text for content and also have a chance to meet with the poets over the duration of the class.

Zepeda, who earned a McArthur "Genius" Fellowship, has authored three books of poetry: "Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert" in 1995, "Jewed I’hoi/Earth Movements" in 1997 and "Where Clouds Are Formed" in 2008. Zepeda also has been named Poet Laureate of Tucson.

In December 2010, Zepeda was invited by the Friends of the Pima County Public Library to deliver the 2010 Lawrence Clark Powell Lecture. Recently, she completed a public art project, inscribing her bilingual poems on large boulders along North Mountain Avenue near the UA campus. 

Others who will read during the series are:

  • Luci Tapahonso, a member of the Navajo Nation (Diné) who is a UA American Indian studies professor who also teaches English, will read Feb. 16. Tapahonso is a recipient of the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association's Award for Poetry and was named "Storyteller of the Year" in 1999 by The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers.
  • Franci Washburn, a UA associate professor of American Indian studies who also teaches English, will read March 2. Washburn writes poetry, novels and short stories. Her first novel, "Elsie's Business," was published in 2006.
  • Leslie Marmon Silko, who was born in Albuquerque and raised at Laguna Pueblo, is an award-winning author. Silko is perhaps most known for "Ceremony," "Almanac of the Dead" and "Gardens in the Dunes." She will read April 6. Her memoir, "Turquoise Ledge," was published last year. 
  • Gerald Vizenor, Distingished Professor of American Studies and a professor at the University of New Mexico, will read April 13. Vizenor has authored dozens of books and articles on critical studieds, native histories and poetry. His book, "Griever: An American Monkey King in China," earned him the American Book Award for his novel. 

After each reading, the authors will hold book signings.


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