Simon Ortiz

Pueblo poet Simon Oritz's poetry resonates with the images of the desert landscape: arid plains, wind-carved rocks, and immense expanses of porcelain blue sky. Ortiz's focus is on language, and how the stark beauty of the desert can be made to sing with rhythm and verse. His poetry is rooted in the ancient oral traditions of the Acoma tribe, but it branches out into the realities of modern life, urban and rural, and the new southwest. To Ortiz, Pueblo oral tradition is more than folk tales passed from one generation to the next: "It emodies the ceremonial, social life that has been kept within the continuum of the Acoma people," he explains. "It includes advice and counsel, those things told to you by your elders to insure that you're living responsibly, to ensure that the relationships among family members are correct and according to Acoma ways of life." Starting in the 1990s, Simon Ortiz has devoted himself to university teaching and mentoring young Indian writers.

Click here to hear an excerpt on Simon Ortiz from Writing the Southwest.