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Simon J. Ortiz Biography

(1941– ), Rough Rock News, Naked in the Wind, Going for the Rain, A Good Journey

Native American poet and short-story writer, born in Albuquerque, New Mexico; he was brought up within the Acoma Pueblo community and was educated at the universities of New Mexico and Iowa. Ortiz has taught at various educational institutions and edited the Navajo publication Rough Rock News. His collections of verse include Naked in the Wind (1970), Going for the Rain (1976), and A Good Journey (1977); two further volumes, A Poem is a Journey and From Sand Creek: Rising in This Heat which Is Our America, appeared in 1981. Ortiz aligns his work with the oral traditions of Native American storytelling; fundamental to his purposes is a celebration of mankind's relationship with Nature and the continuity of the earth. The speaker of ‘My Father's Song’ recalls planting corn, and the passing of knowledge between generations. His poems often movingly juxtapose white manifestations—missionaries, IBM cards, motels, Western philosophies—with the native ideal of rootedness in crafts, ritual, and a sense of place. Ortiz's collections of stories include Howbah Indians (1978) and Fightin': New and Collected Stories (1983). He has also written Fightback: For the Sake of the People, for the Sake of the Land (1980), reflecting a strong advocacy of Native American culture and civil rights. See Native American Literature.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Joseph O'Connor Biography to Cynthia Ozick Biography