The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Home / Writers / Jake Skeets
Photograph of Jake Skeets

Jake Skeets

Piper Writers Studio Visiting Writer 2019

About Jake Skeets

Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water's Edge. He is Diné from the Navajo Nation. A graduate of the Low-Rez IAIA MFA program, he currently resides in the Navajo Nation and works at Diné College. He is one of the winners of the 2018 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His debut poetry collection, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, was selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner for the 2018 National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from Milkweed in September 2019.

Find Classes with Jake Skeets

Energy and Poetry
Jake Skeets

Date: Saturday, October 5, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Type: Generative Workshop, Lecture
Genre: American Indian, Indigenous, Poetry

Charles Olson, in “Projective Verse,” states that poetry is energy transference from poet to poem to reader. This idea is one birthed from an understanding of land, place, and field. In this part lecture, part generative workshop, activities will focus on learning how place creates an energy that informs the composition of a poem. Participants will begin with a presentation on Diné-centered thought and life way models of art creation.


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.