Tapahonso named first Navajo Nation poet laureate

Jun 14th, 2013 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
LUCI TAPAHONSO

POET LAUREATE. Author Luci Tapahonso was named poet laureate of the Navajo Nation at NTC. Photo by Rachael Marchbanks

Navajo Technical College (NTC, Crownpoint, NM) president Dr. Elmer J. Guy announced the appointment of Luci Tapahonso as the Navajo Nation’s first poet laureate in a press conference at NTC’s Hospitality Center. “A poet laureate is being honored by the Navajo Nation and Navajo Technical College in an effort to encourage other Navajo poets, writers, film makers, and artists to realize how important their work is to the continuance and growth of Navajo contemporary culture,” Guy stated. “Luci represents the best of what it is to be Diné, honoring our traditions, while at the same time forming a contemporary voice that speaks beautifully to all people.”

Born in Shiprock, New Mexico in 1953 to a family of 11 children, Tapahonso received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico (UNM) while majoring in English. Upon graduation, Tapahonso stayed at UNM where she served as an Assistant Professor of English and American Indian Studies. Tapahonso then taught at the University of Kansas and the University of Arizona.

She is the author of five books of poetry and stories, and one children’s book. In 1999, she was named Storyteller of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers, a year after being recognized with the Regional Book Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association.

NTC was selected to house the two-year term poet laureate program by the Office of the Navajo Nation Vice President, because of the college’s development of academic programs in the fields of arts and the humanities. NTC is currently working with the Higher Learning Commission on the accreditation of a Bachelor of Arts degree program in Creative Writing and New Media, which will be the first of its kind on the Navajo Nation.

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