The University of New Mexico Creative Writing Program hosts alumnus and National Poetry Series Award-winning poet Jake Skeets for two events.
Skeets will read his poetry in the Garcia Honda Auditorium of George Pearl Hall at the School of Architecture and Planning) on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Feb. 17, Skeets will lead a poetry master class at 2 p.m. in Dane Smith Hall 125. The class is open to all UNM students, faculty, staff and the general public.
To promote the reading and interest in Skeets’s work, all of the creative writing sections at UNM this semester are reading his work, in particular, his lyric essay Poetry as Field and poem America, according to professor of English Greg Martin.
“We could not be more proud to have Jake Skeets coming back to UNM to read and spend time with our students and community,” Martin said. “In a very short time since his own graduation from UNM, he has become one of the nation’s most exciting, innovative and urgent emerging voices. To win the National Poetry Series with your debut collection is a bit like winning the Pulitzer Prize.”
Skeets is currently working on a new poetry collection “that focuses more on the sentence and engages the Diné language more intentionally.”
He is also working on two books of prose and a collection of essays that builds off his essay The Memory Field.Recalling visceral moments in his life, he explores how time and land hold “fields” of memory that can unfold through language and storytelling.
“I am also writing a novel that takes place during the transformative years of the Navajo Nation government, from 1987 to 1990. It has Diné protagonists dealing with changing times as their communities deal with language and culture loss, racist border towns, and the search for hope,” Skeets noted.
He recalled his time as a student at UNM: “The engagement of Native literature and poetics within the English program shaped my entire research and scholarly outlook. I was able to study with poets like Lisa Chavez and Luci Tapahonso and their classes inspired many of the poems that ended up in my debut collection. I cherish my time at UNM, it truly was a gift.”
Skeets (he/him) is Tsi’naajínii born for Tábąąhá; his maternal grandparents are the Táchii’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Tódík’ózhí. He is Diné from Vanderwagen, NM.
The author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, Skeets is the winner of the National Poetry Series, American Book Award, Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Whiting Award. His honors include a 2020-2021 Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship and the 2023-2024 Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. He is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma.