Sherwin Bitsui

2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry

photo of Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’‘zilani (Many Goats Clan). His first collection of poems was Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press 2003) and his second, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press 2009), for which he received a 2010 PEN Open Book Award and an American Book Award.

His other honors include a Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, an Individual Poet Grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, a 2006 Whiting Writers’ Award, and a 2008 Tucson MOCA Local Genius Award. His poems have appeared in American Poet, The Iowa Review, Lit, Narrative, and were anthologized in Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. Bitsui holds a BA from University of Arizona and an AFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts.  He currently lives in Albuquerque.

Arthur Sze, an early teacher of Bitsui’s, has written that his work draws on the “landscape of the Southwest and on images intimately connected with Native ritual and myth. His images oftentimes depict a world-out-of-balance. Indeed, his work struggles with the tension between Diné and English, between the desire to restore a balance with the natural world and the recognition of how ineluctable the forces of twentieth century technology are. In struggling to reconcile these opposing forces, his poems and prose poems enact a personal ceremony.”

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