Skip directly to content

UNM-LA Invites Community To Bitsui Poetry Reading

on November 9, 2017 - 6:27am
Navajo poet Sherwin Bitsui. Courtesy photo

UNM-LA News:

Navajo poet Sherwin Bitsui will read his poetry at UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) at 1 p.m. Nov. 15 in the UNM-LA Library as part of the celebration of National Native American Heritage Month on campus.

A Diné (Navajo), Bitsui studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe and now teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing for the IAIA. His honors include the 2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Fellowship for Literature, a PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award and a Whiting Writers Award.

Bitsui, also a painter, described how he tries to capture images in words. “My poems come first from a sense of image, texture, color. In Navajo, we process thoughts and speak from a language that has different sensibilities. It includes a view of the land, plant life, animal life as part of the everyday perspective. To navigate in English is like moving through a different consciousness.”

At his readings, Bitsui asks the audience to close their eyes and watch the poem happen, to inhabit the place of the poem, as a way to journey in real time.

The community is invited to attend the reading. Visit for more information.

[They inherit a packet of earth]
By Sherwin Bitsui

They inherit a packet of earth
hear its coins clank in a tin box

push them aside
reap thick strands of night from thinning black hair.

They climb the staircase clenching branches of pens filled with ducks’ blood

and follow the butcher’s bed into this room—
goose feathers thorning out of their eyes.

They promise to never look down again
down is just a speck of globe dust

just coins clanking in the tin box.

Sherwin Bitsui, “[They inherit a packet of earth]” from Flood Song. Copyright © 2009 by Sherwin Bitsui, used by permission on behalf of Copper Canyon Press,