Introductions: Natalie Diaz
May 19, 2021
By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Interim Executive Director
Natalie Diaz is the author of two acclaimed collections of poetry: When My Brother Was an Aztec and Postcolonial Love Poem. She is a poet, a scholar and student of the Mojave language, a basketball player, a professor, and, if you follow her on Instagram, you know that she also seems to be an expert cocktail maker.
When I read Postcolonial Love Poem, I fell in love: in love with the language, its specificity, its physicality, its sensuality. I fell in love with the love poems. I fell in love with the not-love poems that were also love poems! When writing, Diaz asks herself, as she says in this talk, “How do I come to the language and make a love poem out of it?”
This is an evening of phrases and insights like that: you will want your notebook and favorite pen. Natalie and Laura go deep as they share words from their respective indigenous languages, handing them back and forth across Zoom, handling them with delight and care. They discuss anxiety, grief, insomnia, trauma to land and people and language and how that “language” as Natalie wonders, “can help us be the bodies and lives that we are—how can I treat it like a practice that can make me better?”
Natalie calls the year we’ve just had not quarantine, or lockdown, but the “slowdown.” A word that is neither scared, nor sick, but gentle with itself, gentle with us. So join me in the slowdown. Join me in the love poem on the tip of tonight’s tongue. Let’s welcome back, to the green-I-want-you-green of Seattle in the spring, poet Natalie Diaz.
Natalie Diaz gave a poetry reading on Friday, April 30, 2021, as part of our 2020/21 SAL Presents series of special events; SAL Interim Executive Director Rebecca Hoogs delivered this introduction.