Poetry Reading: Laura Tohe, Kimberly Blaeser, and Elise Paschen

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Poetry Reading: Laura Tohe, Kimberly Blaeser, and Elise Paschen

By Woodland Pattern

Poetry Reading featuring Laura Tohe, current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and author of Tseyí / Deep in the Rock (University of Arizona Press, 2005), Kimberly Blaeser, author of Ancient Light (University of Arizona Press, 2024), and Elise Paschen, author of Tallchief (Magic City Books, 2023). Presented as part of our series Native Writers in the 21st Century with support from the NEA.

Laura Tohe is Diné, Sleepy-Rock People clan and born for the Bitter Water People clan. She is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. Her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Tséyi / Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories. With Heid Erdrich, she edited the anthology Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community, and her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World, made its world premiere in France in 2008. Among her awards are the 2020 Academy of American Poetry Fellowship; 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award; Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers; the Joy Harjo & the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award; and the Arizona Book Association's Glyph Award for Best Poetry and Best Book. Tohe is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University.

Kimberly Blaeser, past Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of Indigenous Nations Poets, is the author of six poetry collections including Ancient Light, Copper Yearning, and the bilingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic pieces have appeared in exhibits such as “Visualizing Sovereignty,” and “No More Stolen Sisters.” An enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, she is an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist. An MFA faculty member at the Institute of American Indian Arts and a Professor Emerita at UW–Milwaukee, Blaeser currently serves as a Vassar College Tatlock Fellow and the 2024 Mackey Chair in Creative Writing at Beloit College. Her accolades include a Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. She lives in rural Wisconsin and in a seasonal cabin near the BWCA wilderness.

Elise Paschen’s next book of poetry, Blood Wolf Moon, will be published in 2025. An enrolled member of the Osage Nation, she is the author of six poetry collections, most recently, Tallchief. As an undergraduate at Harvard, she received the Garrison Medal for poetry. She holds M.Phil. and D.Phil. degrees from Oxford University. Her poems have been published widely, including in Poetry, the New Yorker, A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, and Best American Poetry. She has edited or co-edited numerous anthologies, including The Eloquent Poem, and the New York Times bestseller, Poetry Speaks. Paschen teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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