The Cortez Public Library will host an evening showcasing the poetry and art of five Navajo women on Friday, April 20. The Poetry Tonight event, coinciding with National Poetry Month, begins with a books and visual sale at 4 p.m., followed by a reading at 6 p.m. and an open mic at 7:45 p.m. in which audience participation is encouraged. Following are the poets, with biographies from the Cortez Public Library.
Tracey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People). She is from Cove, Arizona, and grew up in Kirtland, New Mexico. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, Morning Star Creative Writing Award and the Philip Freund Prize. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and a master’s in fine arts in creative writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Literary Hub, New Poets of Native Nations and other publications. Her first book is “Rain Scald.” She lives in Salt Lake City.Esther Belin is a writer and multimedia artist. In 2000, she won the American Book Award for her first book of poetry, “From the Belly of My Beauty.” Her second collection of poetry, “Of Cartography,” examines identity politics, checkerboard land status and the interplay of words and image. She holds degrees from Antioch University, the Institute of American Indian Arts and the University of California at Berkeley. She is a Navajo Nation citizen and lives in Southwest Colorado with her four daughters and husband.
Tina Deschenie is Ta’neeszahnii, born for Tó’aheedlíini, her cheii are the Tewa from First Mesa at Hopi in Arizona, and her nálí are Bit’ahnii. Deschenie, who is administrator at the Dream Diné Charter School, writes poetry and journals in her spare time.She is married to Michael Thompson, who directs an alternative licensure program for teachers at San Juan College. They are parents to four grown children and enjoy time with their grandchildren.
Gloria Emerson, Diné, is of Tse Daa Kaan, New Mexico, a community between Shiprock and Farmington. She has held many positions, and lived and worked in Navajo Country, Albuquerque, Denver and Santa Fe.Emerson has an master’s degree in educational administration and has served on numerous social, educational, humanity and arts committees. She owned the Shiprock coffeehouse Awheeh-Gohweeh, which sponsored poetry and art events, and was an artist-in-residence at the School of American Research in Santa Fe. The SAR published a book of her art and poetry, “Hems of the Lowest Clouds,” in 2003. Emerson contributed articles and was interviewed in numerous publications. Emerson has had several art shows; the most recent was at the San Juan College, titled “Color Us Opinionated,” which featured Michael Billy and Emerson.
Venaya Yazzie’s poetry concerns the southwestern Navajo/Hopi women’s narrative of her Dinétah homelands of northwest New Mexico. She is a multimedia artist whose work via painting, photography and jewelry adornment is inspired by the high desert lands of the Four Corners.Yazzie is steadfast in being a steward of the land, sacred sites and waters of the area. She is currently working on a manuscript for her book titled “Indigenous Adornment” in the high desert lands of New Mexico.
The event is sponsored by The Farm Bistro, Four Corners Free Press, Maria’s Bookshop, Friends of the Cortez Public Library and KSJD Community Radio.