Natalie Diaz is the author of two poetry collections: When My Brother Was an Aztec, which centers on her brother’s addiction to crystal meth, and Postcolonial Love Poem, forthcoming in 2020. Adrian Matejka calls When My Brother Was an Aztec “a spacious, sophisticated collection, one that puts in work addressing the author’s divergent experiences—whether it be family, skin politics, hoops, code switching, or government commodities.”
Originally from Needles, CA, and the Fort Mojave Indian Village, Diaz is a Gila River Indian community member, and holds both a BA and an MFA in poetry and fiction from Old Dominion University. While an undergraduate, Diaz was on the women’s basketball team, eventually going abroad to play professionally for a number of years in Asia and Europe.
Diaz’s writing incorporates both the personal and the cultural, drawing upon her own experiences as a Mojave American and a Latina. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Narrative Magazine, Guernica, Tin House, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. Along with being a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (2018), Diaz is also the recipient of several prestigious fellowships and residencies, including a Breadloaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a U.S. Artists Ford Fellowship, Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship, a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, a Lannan Literary Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow.
Currently, she lives in Tempe, Arizona, and teaches at Arizona State’s Creative Writing MFA program. She has worked with the last speakers of Mojave and directed a language revitalization program. In an interview with PBS, she said, “For me, writing is kind of a way for me to explore why I want things and why I’m afraid of things and why I worry about things. And for me, all of those things represent a kind of hunger that comes with being raised in a place like this.”