Natalie Diaz and Orlando White Research Paper

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Native American Poetry Reading: Natalie Diaz and Orlando White

Native American culture has traditionally been an oral culture, and although the Native American poets Natalie Diaz and Orlando White are published authors, hearing them speak aloud provides the listener with a critical, additional appreciation of their art. The Aztec-American poet Natalie Diaz's work "I Lean Out the Window and She Nods Off in Bed, the Needle Gently Rocking on the Bedside Table" is a poem that must be heard aloud to be fully appreciated. The poem unfolds in a series of luxurious, sensuous images: "I've brushed glowing halves of avocados/lamping like bell-hipped women in ecstasy. / A wounded Saint Teresa sketched to each breast." The poem paints a picture in words of the woman who is being observed, and Diaz's emotion, the detail with which she describes the figure and the intensity of her inflection give additional weight to every image that unfolds.

For people who feel that poetry is
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something elevated and not a part of 'real life,' going to a poetry reading is important because of the degree of naturalism hearing poetry spoken aloud can convey. On the page, lines like: "Not now, when we are both so capable of growing full on banquets embroidered by Lorca's gypsy nun. / She sleeps, gone to the needle's gentle rocking, / and I lean out the window, a Horus/drunk on my own scent / and midnight's slow drip of stars" might leave a reader scurrying to read footnotes, but Diaz's careful attention to her words, her vocal inflections, and the palpable sense that she is picturing the woman before her enable the listener to gain a deeper emotional understanding of the poem. Diaz was able to 'set up' every poem with a short biographical explanation of when she wrote the poem and what was going on in her life, which added to the poem's significance and meaning for the audience.


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