The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Keynote Speaker, 2018

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. Diaz teaches at Arizona State University, and her first poetry collection is When My Brother Was an Aztec.


Selected Media

"From the Desire Field." Natalie Diaz, Poets.Org Poem of the Day (June 5, 2017). Includes audio.

I don’t call it sleep anymore.
             I’ll risk losing something new instead—

like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.


"No More Cake Here." Natalie Diaz, Poetry Foundation. See also My Brother at 3 A.M., My Brother My Wound, It Was The Animals, Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Resrevation (see also this video).

When my brother died
I worried there wasn’t enough time
to deliver the one hundred invitations
I’d scribbled while on the phone with the mortuary:
Because of the short notice no need to RSVP.


"Natalie Diaz on the Physicality of Writing." Brandon Stosuy, The Creative Independent (Apr 14, 2017).

"When I get my heart rate up, I begin to wonder. I’m an animal or a machine or a miracle of wonders, most of which are impossible and ridiculous and involve all of my friends and beloveds, who are too many and require incredibly difficult journeys and jaguars and lots of bourbon and scotch and my mom and coyotes and Roger and Ada and Thomas and Solmaz and Rickey and lovers and there are just too many things to leap from or trip on or kick in or break down to be stuck on something like creativity. I think creativity is a trap. I tell my students, Call it tension, not creativity. Tension is easy in America, and in love."

"Natalie Diaz." Kaveh Akbar, Divedapper 28.

"With prose, you can lose yourself in it and you can let it carry you away.   You find whatever that rhythm is, and there’s a certain fastness to it even if the writing moves slowly. There’s a certain speed to it—you expect to get from point A to point B in a way you can’t with poetry.   Poetry, for me anyway, seems to be a place where you slow down. In my life, just about everything I did had the pace of a basketball game. Sometimes fast, sometimes less fast. I understood momentum. I learned that not everything has to be one speed. I had to learn to interpret poetry’s momentum and rhythm, had to learn how to move in it."

"Natalie Diaz: The Quantum Theory of Suffering or Why I Look at the Moon." Natalie Diaz, Guernica (January 13, 2015).

"I have imagined the night when Einstein turned to astrophysicist Abraham Pais and asked, Do you really think the moon only exists when you are looking at it? Pais immediately looked up into the corner of that blue sky, locating the satellite, holding with his eyes and mind that grand hole of white light turning the night green at its edges. On that night, it hung like a bone above them as they walked along carrying their big brains. It’s clear to me, too, that when Pais looked up at it, the moon grew fatter, rounder, and the grey maria on its surface pulsed and flickered into focus in a way that seemed new, the way a moon seems new each time we catch it in our gaze."