Published June 19, 2017
Inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation and
UNM Professor Emerita to Lead 2-Day Immersive Program
Luci Tapahonso was born on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico and was raised in a traditional way along with 11 siblings. English was not spoken on the family farm, and Tapahonso learned it as a second tongue after her native Navajo. Following schooling at Navajo Methodist School in Farmington, New Mexico, she attended Shiprock High School and graduated in 1971. She embarked on a career as a journalist and investigative reporter before beginning her studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1976. There she first met the novelist and poet Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo), who was a faculty member and who proved to be an important influence on Tapahonso’s early writing. She initially intended to study journalism at New Mexico, but Silko convinced her to change her major to creative writing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1980. In 1983, Tapahonso received her MA in Creative Writing, and she proceeded to teach; first at UNM and later at the University of Kansas, the University of Arizona, and again at UNM.
In Navajo teachings, it’s said that the “sacred begins at the tip of my tongue.” What does this mean and how does it apply to poetry? In this two-day workshop, participants will explore this concept and write poems with a focus on the importance of place, family history, personal memories, and their connections to community. Participants will write in both open form and ﬁxed form.