This book is on fire. This book is nuclear. Natalie Diaz’s poetry is very physical, very tied to the body. And to the earth. And it is full of the mythos of her heritage and history. This is very powerful work, rife with passion and outrage, with awe and wonder.

A few lines for you, from the poem The First Water is the Body –

We carry the river, its body of water in our body. I do not mean to invoke the Droste effect – this is not a picture of a river within a picture of a river.

I mean river as a verb. A happening. It is moving within me right now.

This is not juxtaposition. Body and water are not two unlike things – they are more than close together or side by side. They are same – body, being, energy, prayer, current, motion, medicine.

The body is beyond six senses. Is sensual. An ecstatic state of energy, always on the verge of praying, or entering any river of movement.

Energy is a moving river moving my moving body.

When I read that this was a National Book Award Finalist, I submitted a request for the library to purchase. I wasn’t too far into it before I knew I needed my own copy, that these were poems I would want to revisit. I highly recommend.

23 comments on “POSTCOLONIAL LOVE POEM by Natalie Diaz”

  1. Oh, JNaz, I am jazzed to see this! I discovered Natalie Diaz in one of the virtual book festivals I watched this summer, and then I saw that David Naimon had done an interview with her about this book on his fabulous Between the Covers podcast. In going after a link to it, I see that there is a Part Two which I haven’t heard. Hallelujah for that. And whose box is next to the Part Two interview but Alice Oswald. Gotta listen to that, too. These interviews are in-depth affairs, so it takes me days of listening here and there to finish, but that’s OK. (I’m listening to another great interview now with Vanessa Veselka about her book, The Great Offshore Grounds. Of course, now I want to read that, too.) Here’s a link to Diaz Part One:

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  2. I’m seeing water as a theme…

    Up in Tahoe with some frozen water. Thought a lot about A Oswald’s comments about why scientists love water — for me, it’s the dipole. The structure of water is so unique and its dipole is such a critical component of biology — I cannot look past the power of protons and electrons. Imagine if we could see all that exchange happening within our cells? Ignorance is bliss in some dimensions…

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    1. PS- I had a friend in an internship at MUSC Charleston SC 2006 – his first task was to measure the volume of water over and over again. He did that all summer. People gave him such a hard time —

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    2. Major theme, borkali. Major connection. Two of my favorite pieces in the book are “The First Water is the Body” and “exhibits from The American Water Museum.” Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles CA, so water – and lack of water – are intrinsic motivators for her.

      And I love pondering all that humming and buzzing on a molecular level…

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  3. We were there together– I was working on the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells from umbilical cords for treatment of spinal cord injury.

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  4. Oh, yes, now I remember: the amazing poetic correspondence project between Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón (was this at the Dodge Festival?)

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  5. I love this exchange. I wish we were all in a room together where we could expand the discussion–closely follow each thread! Poetics and science in conversation.

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  6. Finding my way back here, all — this is on hold at the library and I’m first in line once this book makes it out of quarantine!

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    1. Borkali, you gotta listen to at least a little bit of her Part One conversation on the Between the Covers podcast & if you want to “go backwards” I recall that it gets extra towards the end.

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      1. Thank you for the gentle reminder — I’m earmarking this conversation for once I’m armed & ready 🙂

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  7. I just finished reading this in the early morning on a short trip to Santa Cruz, speaking of water. This nourished me – Thank you JNaz ❤

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