Luci Tapahonso

"A lot of times we think that poetry is so removed from us, [that] it has to do with grand things… [but ] there are certain aspects that are so uniquely yours, so uniquely Navajo. It’s important to you, the emphasis on small things becomes even more important..." Luci Tapahonso, 1992

Watch video of Professor Tapahonso's February 16, 2011, reading.

Luci Tapahonso is Diné, of the Tódik'ozhi (Salt Water People) and born for Tódichʼiiʼnii (Bitter Water People).  Her maternal grandparents are Deeshchii’nii (Start of the Red Streak People) and her paternal grandparents are Kinlichii’nii (Red House People Clan).  She is from Naat’aanii Neez (Shiprock, New Mexico).   Luci Tapahonso is also an award winning author of six volumes of poetry and three children’s books whose work has been translated into at least four languages.  She is currently a Professor of American Indian Studies and English Literature at the University of Arizona as well. Tapahonso’s work can be found beyond her books in numerous anthologies and journals focused on contemporary Native American women writers and oral tradition in the American Southwest.

Born and raised traditionally in the Diné community of Shiprock, New Mexico, Tapahonso is internationally known for her gifts of poetry and storytelling, as well as her leadership in Native American education.  She regularly demonstrates her strong commitment to community and, as a result, has been honored as a Distinguished Woman of the Year by both the National Association of Women in Education and the Girl Scouts Council of America.  Of all her accolades, which are too many to mention in detail here, she often seems most pleased to have been asked to serve as the Grand Marshal of the Northern Navajo Fair twice in her home community of Shiprock, New Mexico.

As a part of the 2011 Poetics & Politics seminar, “Team Tapahonso” (Derwin B. Begay, Khara Ellasante, and April D.J. Petillo) proudly served in a supportive role for their professor during her reading on February 16th, 2011 and co-authored the content for this website.  The video provided above is also available via the archive at the Poetry Center Library.

May 11, 2011