NAME: Sara M. Ortiz  
NATION: Acoma Pueblo  


Ms. Ortiz is an enrolled Acoma Pueblo poet and scholar, born and raised in the southwest and is a recent graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she spent five years studying creative writing (with an emphasis in poetry and creative non-fiction) and where she received her BFA in creative writing in May of 2006. She graduated with her first degree (an AA in creative writing) in the spring of 2004.

Ms. Ortiz has studied under and worked with notable literary artists, scholars, and professionals such as Pulitzer prize winning Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday, Joy Harjo, Diane Reyna, Elizabeth Archuleta, Harlan McKasato, Levi Romero, poet-laureate Arthur Sze, playwrights Bruce King, Diane Reyner, Hanay Geigomah, scholars Gregory Cajete, Steve Wall, Steve Fadden and Charlene Teters, among others. She’s diversified her academic experience at every possible opportunity, taking advantage of various institutes, lectures, symposiums, workshops, and programs both at IAIA and throughout the nation-among them a Native literature seminar taken in May 2006 with professor and author Evelina Zuni Lucero.

Ms. Ortiz has been published in numerous publications, most recently her article, A New Vision of and for Native Literature was published in THE Magazine in the summer of 2006. In the spring of 2006 Ms. Ortiz was published in Scrimshaw: Neo-Modern Literature from the Institute of American Indian Arts, a publication which she also co-edited. She was published in a collection of letters and essays entitled, Letters from Young Activists published by Nation Books in 2005. Ms. Ortiz was first published in a collection of poems, stories, and creative non-fiction called Night is Gone, Day is Still Coming published by Candlewick Press, in 2003. Ms. Ortiz is currently at work on a creative non-fiction project edited by Onondaga writer Eric Gansworth, entitled Sovereign Bones— a publication anticipated in 2007. Ms. Ortiz was awarded the prestigious Truman Capote fellowship award for her excellence in creative writing in the spring of 2003.

Ms. Ortiz says of her writing, in a line from one of her poems, "I am speaking to the very essence of the American Indian experience, which is wholly and entirely a story about America itself. It is a story about love and losing everything. It is a story about us." Ms. Ortiz is currently at work on her first manuscript, a collection of poems, prose, and short stories (the title of which she is keeping undisclosed for the time being) and is expecting its publication in '07.

Ms. Ortiz says of her dreams and work thus far, "I am wholly committed to continuing to write and develop-- at every single level-- as an artist, a scholar, an advocate, a teacher, and a leader. Ultimately, it is my dream to continue to write, receive my MFA in creative writing, return to teach creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts and eventually, to serve as the IAIA's first Pueblo-woman president."


University of New Mexico
Master of Fine Arts: Creative Writing, in progress
Institute of American Indian Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts: Creative Writing, 2006
Institute of American Indian Arts
Associate of Fine Arts: Creative Writing, 2004

The following is an excerpt from:

A New Vision of and for Native Literature

By Sara M. Ortiz

It's absolutely possible to write very beautifully, eloquently and very poorly at the same time. And we have done it. Too often Native writers have chosen acclaim, money, and basic recognition of our voices at the immense cost of a truly collective and representative narrative of 1,001 Native voices. A chosen few have risen to prominence while the rest fell silent and away. The ultimate cost has been our children, our life-ways, our communities, and our dignity-- all the while speaking about how we were saving them. We must write about this now, without flinching or hesitating, and without worrying about who is listening or paying us to do so.

Articulation and Intellectualization of the profane: how do we do it?

The new American Indian academic/storyteller/history keeper has come full circle, from disconnection, absorption, oppression, and termination, to: return, distinction, resistance, and survival. Where the old, and “recently old” narratives were concerned with subtle resistance, eradication, and identity loss, the new generation of Indian writers finds redemption, new method, and reaffirmation of identity through neo-creative resistance, and artistic struggle through brand new media and forum.

Younger Native writers are extremely dangerous due largely to the fact of our being dangerously well-equipped, informed by both genocide and ultimate privilege, and due to our existence as the direct result-- the children-- of the American Indian Movement, the American Indian Rights Age and the so-called American Indian Renaissance. We are extremely dangerous-- in both idea and practice-- because we represent both the successes and the ultimate failures of those movements and era and their most prominent aspects.

What we must do, and are doing, with poetry now: We are not just speaking, and responding to, the continued slaughter of American Indian people, but of Indigenous people worldwide. We are compelled by a genetic memory and a kinetic essence to speak of the atrocities we have seen, and are seeing, as Indian people. . . as human people.

We have seen how it is not an impossible thing to use poetry and art to affect recognizable social-change and to realize the true and not just rhetorical self-determination of Indian people. And we must pay a high regard to our elders for this. But we have also seen that the pursuit for self-realization, self-determination, and freedom cannot be wholly dependent upon our narrative and the expression of it.

Sherman Alexie asked me, “What do you love?”, as if I was all violence, sex, and hatred. I said then, and I will say it time and time again with my whole-life, until I have none left: this is my love, and it isn’t the whole story. And I am not alone.

I am also not alone in saying, to my Nation, to my elders, to those who I love with my terrifying and murderous truth: You better be damn grateful that we’re picking up pens when we can just as easily pick up guns and bombs. So many of us are choosing literature and art instead of terrorism, but too many of us are not, and you should not be shocked at all when you see the Red Lakes of the world, in our Indian Country and hearts, becoming more and more common.

We are, and will be in the coming days and years, making the terrifying and startling connections with literature and language about the suicide of our young people, Native women and children, education, the rising use and distribution of Meth, sexual abuse, and terror.

The question is: is our world ready?