Visiting Writer Natalie Diaz Wins MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

Headshot of visiting writer Natalie Diaz

Walker’s visiting writer Natalie Diaz has been named one of 25 winners of this year’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships, commonly known as ‘genius’ grants awarded annually to individuals who have demonstrated originality, insight and potential for future achievements. The award-winning Native American poet will visit campus in November as part of The Ethel Walker School Visiting Writer Seminar. Please join us on the evening of Friday, November 2 for a reception and reading open to English teachers and interested adults (21+).

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. In 2014, she was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA program and lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last remaining Mojave speakers at Fort Mojave to teach and revitalize the Mojave language.

The Ethel Walker School Visiting Writer Seminar is a semester-long course in which students have the rare and special opportunity to immerse themselves in a study of one writer’s works. Throughout the semester, students read a critical mass of texts by that writer before the course culminates with a visit by that person to the school. During this visit, the writer will teach master classes, conduct writing workshops, and participate in class discussion. The writer will also deliver a schoolwide assembly and a public reading to our community. The magic of this course is created in the collaborative and symbiotic exchange between the writer and the student. Learning and inspiration move from the writer to the student but also, we hope, from the student back to the writer.