Apr 20 • 31M

Episode 86: Finding Your Voice in the Void with Laura Tohe

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Christie Aschwanden
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Emerging Form is a podcast about the creative process in which a journalist (Christie Aschwanden) and a poet (Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer) discuss creative conundrums over wine. Each episode concludes with a game of two questions in which a guest joins in to help answer questions about the week's topic. Season one guests include poets, novelists, journalists, a song writer, a circus performer, a sketch artist and a winemaker.
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When Laura Tohe went to school in the Navajo Nation, there were no books by Native writers for her to read. “That was an invisibility I grew up with,” she says. She knew she wanted to be a writer, she just didn’t know how. In this episode of Emerging Form, we talk with Tohe about how she found support from writers such as Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz and Rudofo Anaya who encouraged her to write about what she knew. Now as Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, she encourages younger Navajo writers to share their stories and poems. 

Laura Tohe is Diné and the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate.  She is Sleepy Rock People clan and born for the Bitter Water People clan.  She published 3 books of poetry, an anthology of Native women’s writing, and an oral history on the Navajo Code Talkers.  Her librettos, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio (2008) and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World (2021), performed in Arizona and France, respectively.  Among her awards are the 2020 Academy of American Poetry Fellowship, the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award, and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  She is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University. In 2015 Laura was honored as the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2017, a title given to her in celebration and recognition of her work as a poet and writer.

Laura Tohe

Tseyí Deep in the Rock

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