Salina Bookshelf hosted an online reading with Navajo Poet Laura Tohe on December 8th.
Laura Tohe read and discussed the award-winning children’s picture book titled, “Dzání Yázhí Naazbaa’: Little Woman Warrior Who Came Home” written by the late Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie. Laura Tohe was a close friend and fellow author of Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie and helped Salina Bookshelf in celebrating her legacy by reading one Yazzie’s award-winning books.
As an author, Dr. Evangeline Parsons Yazzie was most esteemed for writing books in the Navajo language for children and youth, including “Diné Bizaad Bináhoo’aah” and “Little Woman Warrior Who Came Home, a Story of the Navajo Long Walk,” and the historical novel series titled “Her Land, Her Love”, as well as developing a Navajo Language Textbook and Workbook titled Dine Bizaad Binahoo’aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language. A textbook which has been used in schools and colleges to teach and revitalize the language and history of her Navajo people.
Yazzie also taught Navajo at Northern Arizona University for 24 years after obtaining her Master of Arts degree in Bilingual Multicultural Education and a Doctorate in Education emphasizing Native Language Maintenance and Preservation. Yazzie was Tó’aheedlíinii (Water Flows Together Clan), born for Ma’ii Deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass/ Jemez), and originally from Hardrock, Ariona. Her passing was felt largely in her Navajo community, her friends, and her family.
Her contribution to her Navajo people and to writing was immense and will remain immense in the memories she’s imprinted on us all and especially through her very important writings.
Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Tsénahabiłnii, Sleepy Rock People clan, and born for the Tódich’inii, Bitter Water clan. She grew up at Crystal, New Mexico near the Chuska Mountains on the Diné homeland. Her published books include Making Friends with Water (chapbook); No Parole Today, a book on boarding schools; Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community, co-edited with Heid Erdrich; Tseyí Deep in the Rock, in collaboration with photographer, Stephen Strom; and Code Talker Stories, an oral history book with the remaining Navajo Code Talkers. The Phoenix Symphony commissioned her to write the libretto for Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s 60th anniversary. A compact disc recording of Enemy Slayer is on the Naxos classical music label. It received rave reviews by the Arizona Republic and was called “a triumph” by Opera Today.
A poet, writer, and librettist, Tohe’s work has been published in such journals as Ploughshares, New Letters, cream city review, Red Ink, World Literature Today and many others. Her work has appeared in the U.S., Canada, South America and in Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations. She has read her poetry internationally in the U.S., Europe, and South America. Laura holds a doctorate degree in creative writing, Indigenous American Literature, and American Literature. In 2015 Laura was honored as the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2017, a title given to her in celebration and recognition of her work as a poet and writer.