Archive for Tuesday, February 9, 1993

POETRY READING TO BENEFIT HASKELL

February 9, 1993

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Luci Tapahonso will bring her poetry and stories to Haskell Indian Junior College on Saturday when she reads selections from her fourth book, "Saanii Dahataal: The Women Are Singing."

Tapahonso, a Navajo poet and assistant professor of English at Kansas University, also will sign hardbound and softbound editions of the book at a reception following the reading.

All proceeds collected from the sale of the book and donations for attending the reading will be donated to the college.

"I'm very pleased with this book," Tapahonso said. "I think it's done very elegantly."

THE BOOK'S cover is graced with a painting by Emmy Whitehorse, an artist based near Shiprock, N.M.

Tapahonso's poems and stories in this book focus on her family in New Mexico, she said.

"The book very much emphasizes the role of women in Navajo society and Navajo culture," she said. "It's a view of what Indian families are like from the inside."

She said the book has been in the works since the end of 1991 and has been revised several times since it first was sent to the publisher.

"My family is very happy with the book," she said. "Of course they've been living through the whole process with me, and to see the final product is part of the process. It's really exhilarating at the end for me. It's like having a baby without the pain."

When Tapahonso performs her work, she doesn't just read. Her stories and poems often combine the Navajo language with English, so she performs each piece using several elements.

"THE WORK is a combination of poetry, of song, of stories and of prayer. It's a mix of different kinds of forms," she said.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Haskell Auditorium. Admission will be charged to all attending except Haskell students. The reception and book signing will follow in the Hiawatha Welcome Center on the campus.

"Haskell is very important to me for obvious reasons," said Tapahonso, whose husband, Bob Martin, is Haskell's president. "But it also is important to me as a Navajo person. It's important to speak with and let students know that the Indian lifestyle and culture are very significant."

Tapahonso has a master's and bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico. Prior to her work at KU, she held an assistant professorship at the University of New Mexico.

LAST FALL, Tapahonso was awarded the Hall Creative Fellowship from the Hall Center for the Humanities at KU. In 1989, she was named the New Mexico Eminent Scholar by the New Mexico Commission of Higher Education and in 1986 was named as the Top Woman of the Navajo Nation by Maazo Magazine.

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