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  Simon Ortiz
Simon Ortiz is a poet, fiction writer, essayist and storyteller—a native of Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. He insists on telling the story of his people's land, culture and community.
Simon Ortiz
"As a writer among writers, I write from my identity as a native person, but also as a member of the rest of the world." Ortiz's insistence, however, is upon a story that stresses vision and hope by creative struggle and resistance against human and technological oppression. Simon Ortiz is regional in the same sense that Faulkner is, and like him, Ortiz values the storyteller's collaboration with the listener, values a shared visiion for what was and could be; mere telling isn't enough.

Simon Ortiz has received award recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund Award, a "Returning the Gift" Lifetime Achievement Award, and a New Mexico Humanities Council Humanitarian Award.

What Is A Poem?

Simon Ortiz
Picture a man going from place
to place, finding a bone here,
a skull there, a chunk of stone,
a shard of plate, an old calendar,
a rusty bolt, a piece of cloth.
     What is a poem but that.
     What is a poem but that?

Four sparrows hop about in the backyard
near the path to the trashbarrel.
They pick scraps and bits off the ice.
Two blue jays come upon them,
and the sparrows don't hesitate to flee.
     What is a poem but that?
     What is a poem but that.

The man sees a murder one morning.
This is in America.
Another day he sits in a goverment office.
This is the place it happens.
Things happen. Murder
and waiting in government offices.
     This is not a poem.
     This is not a poem?

That man cannot be saved.
Everything must be saved brefore he will be.
He doesn't eat for days.
There is nothing to eat.
     This is not a poem?
     This is not a poem.

What is a poem? This is not a poem.
This is not a poem? What is a poem.
What is a poem but that?
What is a poem but that.

from After and Before the Lightning

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