Luci Tapahanso

Ethereal yet immensely powerful,the works of Navajo poet Luci Tapahanso seem as native to the Southwest as the yellow sandstone and fragrant sage of her first home in Shiprock, New Mexico. Like Joy Harjo and Simon Ortiz, Tapahanso draws from the oral traditions in which she was raised--in her case, the flowing rhythms of the Beauty Way and other Navajo chants.

These rhythms and traditional songs are incorporated organically into her work. Her poetry is rooted in the remote mesa country of the Navajo reservations; she does not ignore the problems of modern urban Indians--alcoholism, poverty, racism. Her poems untie these harsh realities with the harmony of vision so important to her Navajo worldview. Since the beginning of the century, Tapahanso has been based out of Tuscon, where she directs the University of Arizona's program in Native American Studies.

Click here to hear an excerpt on Luci Tapahonso from Writing the Southwest.