Navajo Technical University Introduces the New Navajo Nation Poet Laureate

Sep 11th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Daniel Vandever
Arizona State University professor Dr. Laura Tohe was announced as the next Navajo Nation poet laureate at NTU.

Arizona State University professor Dr. Laura Tohe was announced as the next Navajo Nation poet laureate at NTU.

Dr. Laura Tohe was announced as the next Navajo Nation poet laureate and was recognized at an induction ceremony at the Navajo Technical University Hospitality Center. She succeeds Luci Tapahonso and is the second poet laureate of the Navajo Nation.

Dr. Tohe is a Professor with Exemplar Distinction in the English Department at Arizona State University (ASU). She has authored three books of poetry, edited an anthology of Native women writers, and has completed an oral history on the Navajo Code Talkers. Her body of work is recognized throughout North America and Europe and has been translated into French, Dutch, and Italian.

Dr. Tohe’s work is the recipient of numerous awards. In 1992, her book, Making Friends with Water, won the Institute of Creative Research and Sport Art Academy’s award after it was made into a modern dance. Her book on boarding schools, No Parole Today, won the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers’ Poetry of the Year Award in 1999. In 2006, Arizona Humanities named Tohe as the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award recipient. The following year, her book Tseyí Deep in the Rock received the Southwest Book of the Year award, the 2007 Glyph Award for Best Poetry, and the Arizona Book Association’s Best Book award.

As a result of all her success, the Phoenix Symphony commissioned Dr. Tohe to write the libretto for Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s 60th anniversary. Dr. Tohe’s most recent work, Code Talker Stories (2012), is an oral history consisting of interviews with the surviving Navajo code talkers.

Dr. Tohe’s clans are Tsénahabiãnii (Sleepy Rock People clan), born for the Tódich’inii (Bitter Water clan). She grew up in Crystal, New Mexico near the Chuska Mountains and attended boarding school and public schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She holds a Ph.D. in American literature and creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Navajo Technical University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and New Media houses the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate program, under the guidance of the Office of the Navajo Nation Vice President.

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