From a 1997 NCAA Women’s Basketball runner-up, to pro-ball in Europe and Asia, to winning the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2018, Natalie Diaz can now add one more win to her already spectacular list of accolades: the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collections entitled ‘Postcolonial Love Poem.’ A storied life and career, her inspiration transferred from the basketball court into her classrooms at Arizona State University where she teaches courses as part of the English Department.
In 2018, Diaz was awarded the coveted MacArthur Genius Grant.
“For me, poetry is one way I center myself in my body. I really believe in the physical power of poetry, of language. Where we come from, we say language has an energy, and I feel that it‘s a physical energy. To me, it’s very similar to what I did on a basketball court.”
Born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village, she is Mojave and is part of the Gila River Indian community. Part of how she gives back to her community is by stressing the importance of the Mojave language. She works with the last speakers of the Mojave language where she directed a language revitalization program.
From her 2018 MacArthur Fellow acceptance video she mentions, “The work that I’ve done with my elders is to help preserve the Mojave language is one of the most important things I’ve done in my life and in some ways I don’t think I’ll ever write anything more important than the stories of theirs that I have written down.”
For more information on this true Latina Powerhouse, please enjoy her 2018 MacArthur Fellow acceptance in the video below.