The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature


Today’s book is: The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature, which is the 2022 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award Winner. The Diné Reader showcases the breadth, depth, and diversity of Diné creative artists and their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction prose, in a wide-ranging anthology. The collected works display a rich variety of and creativity in themes: home and history; contemporary concerns about identity, historical trauma, and loss of language; and economic and environmental inequalities. The Diné Reader developed as a way to demonstrate both the power of Diné literary artistry and the persistence of the Navajo people. The volume opens with a foreword by poet Sherwin Bitsui, who offers insight into the importance of writing to the Navajo people. The editors then introduce the volume by detailing the literary history of the Diné people, establishing the context for the tremendous diversity of the works that follow, which includes free verse, sestinas, limericks, haiku, prose poems, creative nonfiction, mixed genres, and oral traditions reshaped into the written word. This volume combines an array of literature with illuminating interviews, biographies, and photographs of the featured Diné writers and artists. A valuable resource to educators, literature enthusiasts, and beyond, this anthology is a much-needed showcase of Diné writers and their compelling work. The volume also includes a chronology of important dates in Diné history by Jennifer Nez Denetdale, as well as resources for teachers, students, and general readers by Michael Thompson. The Diné Reader is an exciting convergence of Navajo writers and artists with scholars and educators.

Our guest is: Esther G. Belin, who is a Diné multimedia artist and writer, and a faculty mentor in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute for American Indian Arts. She graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts and the University of California, Berkeley. Her poetry collection From the Belly of My Beauty won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her latest collection is Of Cartography: Poems. She is a second-generation off-reservation Native American resulting from the U.S. federal Indian policies of termination and relocation. Her art and writing reflect the historical trauma from those policies as well as the philosophy of Saah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózho, the worldview of the Navajo people. She is one of the editors of The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature.

Our co-guest is: Jeff Berglund, who is the director of the Liberal Studies Program and a professor of English at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he has worked since 1999. Dr. Berglund’s research and teaching focuses on Native American literature, comparative Indigenous film, and U.S. multi-ethnic literature. His books include Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop (co-editor), and Indigenous Peoples Rise Up: The Global Ascendancy of Social Media Activism (co-editor). In addition to serving as the treasurer of the Association of Studies in American Indian Literature, Berglund is a member of the Australia-based Forum for Indigenous Research Excellence (FIRE), The Working Group on Emergent Indigenous Identities, and NAU’s partnership with DINÉ (Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators) and the Yale National Initiative.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women and gender.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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