The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Photograph by Quanah Yazzie

Jake Skeets

NEA Big Read Partner 2021
Piper Writers Studio Visiting Writer 2019

About Jake Skeets

Jake Skeets is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, winner of the National Poetry Series. He is the recipient of a 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize, a Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Award. He is from the Navajo Nation and teaches at Diné College.

Find Events with Jake Skeets

NEA Big Read Kick Off: Evening Song
Luci Tapahonso, Laura Tohe, Amanda R. Tachine, Jake Skeets, Arizona Humanities

Date: Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 6:30pm
Location: Zoom
Type & Genre: Celebration, Community Event, Talk; American Indian, Community, Indigenous, Mixed Genre
Kick off the NEA Big Read with a conversation on Diné womanhood and the power of storytelling featuring Navajo Nation Poets Laureate Luci Tapahonso and Laura Tohe.

Queer Poetry Salon
Tommy Pico, Jake Skeets, Smokii Sumac

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2020 - 6:00pm
Location: Livestream
Type & Genre: Reading; Indigenous, LGBTQIA, Performance Poetry, Sexuality

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is partnering with Equality Arizona for quarterly readings with a diverse, world-class cast of queer poets. We aim to strengthen & grow queer culture in Arizona by bringing the world's great LGBTQIA2s+ poets to our communities.

Pollentongue + Queer Poetry Salon
tanner menard, Jake Skeets, Elliot Winter

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 3:30pm
Location: Front Lawn, Old Main, Arizona State University Tempe, 400 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Type & Genre: Conversation, Panel, Reading, Talk; American Indian, Community, Creative Practice, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, Poetry, Social Justice, Social Practice
Drawing from their experiences as writers, organizers, educators, and students working with queer and indigenous communities, Jake Skeets, tanner menard, and Elliot Winter will explore how they use their poetry to create opportunities for others, center diverse voices, uplift individuals, and build community.

Date: Friday, October 4, 2019 - 6:30pm
Location: Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, 1738 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006
Type & Genre: Reading; Indigenous, Poetry

Join the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing for a poetry reading with Jake Skeets on first Friday, October 4, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore (1738 E McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85006),

While encouraged, RSVPs are purely for the purposes of monitoring attendance, gauging interest, and communicating information about parking, directions, and other aspects of the event. You do not have to register or RSVP to attend this event. This event is open to the public and free.

Find Classes with Jake Skeets

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More About Jake Skeets

Fagan, Kathy. "SHADOWS AND STORY: TALKING WITH JAKE SKEETSThe Rumpus, September 9, 2019.

Writing the book was tremendously difficult and I am not just talking about the careful but also strict critique of Sherwin Bitsui, Joan Kane, and Santee Frazier. The book itself was emotionally and spiritually exhaustive. I read through dozens of newspaper articles from the Gallup Independent and other newspapers about the deaths that occurred in Gallup. I asked my mother questions about my uncle. Even just repeating the story brought her to tears. It was also draining to deal with my own history, as in “Dear Brother,” which is directed toward my older cousin who is currently incarcerated. Growing up, he became an older brother to me, and witnessing his arrest, trial, and ultimate incarceration was truly confusing. I balanced all this emotion with the idea of the field. The fields become a space of negotiation.

Skeets, Jake. "PipelineApogee Journal, November 13, 2017.

I lay pipes among your bones
necklace of crypts
oil clot heavy as firewood
my scales gleam as each hoof of god

night pools
as crow feathers
under your tongue
prairie veined in jaw sung

of stuffed iron and black gold
swollen river now gone
riot earth awake
unbury more bone and crypt

I am only sever
eyes as slits in my name
each E a cage
for the breath after

---. "Love Letter to a Dead BodyBoston Review, May 3, 2018.

we lay each other down in the burr and sage
bottles jangle us awake
cirrhosis moon for eye

memories cough our young fists up
trying to set ourselves on fire
dressing ourselves in black smoke

just as our cousins did one by one after the other
rising pure blue in June

let drunktown rake up
the letters in their names
lost to bone
let horses graze where remains are found

and you kiss me to shut me up
my skin bruise dark in the deep

"Jake Skeets reads 'Dear Brother'Unterberg Poetry Center, 2018.

Jake Skeets reads “Dear Brother” at 92Y on May 10, 2018 as part of that year’s Discovery contest winner’s reading.

About NEA Big Read

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This event is presented as part the NEA Big Read: Phoenix, celebrating Indigenous literary arts and culture in the Valley with over 25 talks, workshops, performances, book clubs, art exhibits other virtual events inspired by The Round House by Louise Erdrich. NEA Big Read: Phoenix is presented by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University with additional support from Arizona Humanities, Phoenix Public Library, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Humanities Division at ASU. Find events, meet our partners, and start reading today at

Support Indigenous Communities

The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest American Indian non-profit organization of its kind in the United States, providing workforce development, cultural enrichment, and other vital services to Indigenous communities throughout the Valley for over 70 years. To support their work, visit their website at, click the donate button, enter an amount, and enter "NEA Big Read" in the description. Please consider making a gift to the Phoenix Indian Center today.

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