Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Postcolonial Love Poem

Rate this book
Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Poetry (2020)
Natalie Diaz’s highly anticipated follow-up to When My Brother Was an Aztec, winner of an American Book Award

Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.

Diaz defies the conditions from which she writes, a nation whose creation predicated the diminishment and ultimate erasure of bodies like hers and the people she loves: “I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.” Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope—a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.

107 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Natalie Díaz

28 books457 followers
Natalie Díaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2012. Her second poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poems is published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She is 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Díaz teaches at the Arizona State University Creative Writing MFA program.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,943 (52%)
4 stars
1,925 (34%)
3 stars
611 (10%)
2 stars
114 (2%)
1 star
19 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 878 reviews
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 121 books157k followers
February 29, 2020
A remarkable poetry collection. There is such range in these poems, stylistically, thematically. I had to look up so many words. Diaz has one hell of a vocabulary and the sound and feel of her language offers such pleasure. This is a trenchant work about culture and water and oppression and desire and family and lineage. The longer poems are really something special. The exhibits from the American Water Museum is the real standout in this collection. Excellent sophomore effort.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
849 reviews5,813 followers
June 14, 2021

It is hard not to have faith in this,’ Natalie Diaz writes in her 2021 Pulitzer Prize winning collection Postcolonial Love Poem. There is a deep faith in what is possible that permeates this collection despite the deep dives of poetic investigation of colonialism that afflicts both the national level but the individual level as well. This collection is a beautiful celebration of indigenous lives while also demanding a reckoning of the loss and erasure of a nation that was sacrificed for the one that now stands. Diaz wrestles with identity and the problematic aspects of publishing that demand performance from non-white writers. ‘It is real work to not perform / a fable,’ she says, acknowledging that ‘Americans prefer a magical Indian’ even when dipping into magical elements to bring nature and the land to life. This is an absolutely stunning collection that laments the loss of land and colonial genocide while engaging the reader to rise up and believe in a better future with atonement and love, and Postcolonial Love Poem is not only the perfect selection for immortalization through a Pulitzer Prize but a perfect collection of poetry as well.

Do you think the water will forget what we have done, what we continue to do?

Divided into three sections and punctuated by thought provoking quotes by poetry giants such as Mahmoud Darwish and current US Poet Laureate and indigenous poet Joy Harjo, this is an earthshaking investigation into the history of the US and the erasure and violence against the indigenous people and land. This is a collection where the rivers are the lifeblood of the land, people and poetry and each investigation is a trauma that shakes generations. ‘To read a body is to break that body a little,’ Diaz writes, and she puts her soul on full display in all its vulnerability.

You can rewrite but not unwright.

While this is a call to engage with the history of the land, Diaz also holds space for hope, empathy, but especially love. With a whole oppressive history hanging over everything, there are gorgeous love poems that celebrate queer love and push back at the aggression such an intersectional identity is subjected to. The multiple narratives all join into an overarching cry for freedom and each poem will shake you to your core.

My country needs me, and if I were not here, I would have to be invented.

Loneliness, love, frustration and revolutionary desire are all teeming within each page of this extraordinary collection. Natalie Diaz is a gem and I hope nothing but the best for her and can’t wait to read more of her work.


American Arithmetic

Native Americans make up less than
one percent of the population of America.
0.8 percent of 100 percent.

O, mine efficient country.

I do not remember the days
before America — I do not remember the days
when we were all here.

Police kill Native Americans more
than any other race. Race is a funny word.
Race implies someone will win,
implies I have as good a chance of winning as —

Who wins the race which isn't a race?

Native Americans make up 1.9 percent
of all police killings, higher than any race,
and we exist as .8 percent of all Americans.

Sometimes race means run.

We are not good at math.
Can you blame us?
We've had an American education.

We are Americans and we are less than 1 percent
of Americans. We do a better job of dying
by police than we do existing.

When we are dying, who should we call?
The police? Or our senator?
Please, someone, call my mother.

In Arithmetic and in America,
divisibility has rules —
divide without remainder.

At the National Museum of the American Indian,
68 percent of the collection is from the U.S.
I am doing my best to not become a museum
of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out.

I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.

But in this American city with all its people,
I am Native American — less than one, less than
whole — I am less than myself. Only a fraction
of a body, let's say, I am only a hand —

and when I slip it beneath the shirt of my lover
I disappear completely.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.1k followers
November 17, 2021
this was very pretty, and that's all i really have to say about it.

i mean, to go on, i wish this exact writer would write a novel about this exact concept. pretty prose is something i like.

i don't feel that poetry should primarily be pretty. i want it to feel like i'm being stabbed in the gut.

that's why i read so little poetry. one, because if it's good it will be painful, and two, because i almost never really think it's good.

bottom line: i'll try again next year!

tbr review

i don't typically read poetry, but i can't pass up an opportunity to be pretentious
Profile Image for Atri .
187 reviews116 followers
July 19, 2020
Postcolonial Love Poem

...The war ended
depending on which war you mean: those
we started,
before those, millennia ago and onward,
those which started me, which I lost and
won -
these ever-blooming wounds.

Natalie Diaz lends a robust voice to the oppressed minority community of Native Americans - her tone is not one of bitter and acerbic criticism though, but an optimistic assertion of racial identity, memory and desire. She creates a palimpsest from a history that has been denied, an identity that has been insidiously obliterated. The intensely political poems in this collection denude the injustice perpetrated by the colonial forefathers and the ruthless racial persecution that her people still face. The lyricism is erotically charged - succulent and delectable. She returns to the irredeemable agony of the loss of her brother in quite a few poems. Diaz juxtaposes the political and the personal - reclaiming a past that is theirs yet not there.

American Arithmetic

...Police kill Native Americans more
than any other race. Race is a funny word.
Race implies someone will win,
implies, I have as good a chance of winning
as -

Who wins the race that isn't a race?

Native Americans make up 1.9 percent of
police killings, higher per capita than any

sometimes race means run.

...I am doing my best to not become a
of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in
and out.

I am begging: Let me be lonely but not

Diaz notes: "The line 'Police kill Native Americans more than any other race' is based on statistics per capita, as the poem goes on to state in following lines. This poem was written in acknowledgement of, solidarity with, and in conversation with the police violence perpetrated against all black and brown peoples in the United States."

In her notes, she also mentions some of her influences - Mahmoud Darwish, John Ashberry, Ada Limon, Etel Adnan and Anne Sexton. The environmental activist strain runs through most of the poems.

exhibits from The American Water Museum

...The river says, Open your
mouth to me,
and I will make you more.

Because even a river can be lonely,
even a river will die of thirst.

...If a river spoke English, it might say:

What begins in water
will end without it.


I remember you-
I cannot forget
my own body.

John Freeman observes: "In a world where nothing feels so conservative as a love poem, Diaz takes the form and smashes it to smithereens, building something all her own. A kind of love poem that can allow history and culture and the anguish of ancestors to flow through and around the poet as she addresses her beloved.”

Diaz subverts the hegemonic discourse of American history and foregrounds the plight of her people, while retracing an elusive, effaced yet indelible past.

Grief Work

...We go where there is love,

to the river, on our knees beneath the
water. I pull he under four times,

until we are rivered.
We are rearranged.
Profile Image for Henk.
847 reviews
May 17, 2023
Poems filled with complexity, rich in vocabulary and influences from various literary tradition. Gun violence, overdoses, discrimination, desire for women, sensually and lyrically described, erasure of indigenous and native populations. This is a bundle to savour and reflect upon.
Dirty Indian - a phrase blown like magnetite dust
against the small bones in my ear, many times, and dark.

Sometimes I believed them - I’d look around
my reservation, around our yard, our house -
Dirty, I’d say,

like I was a doctor with a diagnosis,
except I was the condition.

All my life I’ve been working, 
to get clean—to be clean is to be good, in 
To be clean is the grind. 

Except my desert is made of sand, my skin 
the color of sand. It gets everywhere. 

America is the condition—of the blood and of the rivers, 
of what we can spill and who we can spill it from. 
A dream they call it, what is American.

- That Which Cannot Be Stilled

Post colonial Love Poem is an impressively layered bundle that makes you feel the desert and the sadness of the poet for her brother and the fate of her people in general.

My brothers feed their bullet
the way the bulls fed Zeus -
burning, on a pyre, their own
thigh bones wrapped in fat.

You could say my brother’s bullet
cleans them - the way red ants
wash the empty white bowl
of a dead coyote’s eye socket

- Catching Copper

If you are where you are, then where
are those who are not here? Not here.

- Manhattan Is a Lenape Word

Gun violence, overdoses, discrimination, desire for women, sensually and lyrically described, erasure of indigenous and native populations
The vocabulary is rich, a whole lot of words I haven’t seen earlier.
Memories of a dead brother, wounds recur often.

I obey what I don’t understand, then become it,
which needs no understanding.

until it is only what it might become.

What question can I ask of the thing I am?
All I have done and failed to do.

- I, Minotaur

What does it mean that your life is made or someone else’s shed water and blood? Dial 1 if you don’t care.

You cannot drink poetry.

Love has never been different from thirst,
but now everything is different. All the cups
are filled with dirt - even our mouths.

- exhibits from the American Water Museum

Trust your anger. It is a demand for love.
- Isn’t the Air Also a Body, Moving?

Brodsky said, Darkness restores what light cannot repair.
- The Cure for Melancholy Is to Take the Horn

If you say to me, This is not your new house but I am your new home
- If Is Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert

We go where there is love
- Grief Work

Natalie Díaz is a poet to follow, very impressive bundle of poetry!
Profile Image for Prerna.
222 reviews1,320 followers
November 21, 2022
This poem was written in acknowledgment of, solidarity with, and in conversation with the police violence perpetrated against all black and brown peoples in the United States.

All of the poems in this book are written in solidarity with and in conversation with the oppressed across the world, but especially with black and brown people. There's something so beautiful about the way Diaz maps fetishised, pathologized bodies in her book, particularly the bodies of latinx women. There's also something so telling about the way she writes of bodies in the way one would about open wounds, there's so much tenderness, pain and the possibility of healing.

As I read some of these poems, I watched my own hands and thought about what they're capable of, what they've been subjected too. I reflected on my own body, its curves, dips and contours. I wondered if I've already become a museum of myself, collecting and exhibiting all my trauma over the years so that now it's a labyrinth even to me. My appetite, my hunger waxing and waning as the poems holler, reach a crescendo and go forward, always down. We've performed our lives as the fables they wrote for us and these poems are a revolt against those fables.

We are deserts and deserted, our bodies temples for a runaway god we don't understand and don't obey. These poems had me by the throat, strangled me as I struggled to say choke me. I am eaten and full.

This collection is an Odyssey, a search for and a return home, a return to the brother and a return to the mother.
Profile Image for julieta.
1,138 reviews19.3k followers
June 6, 2021
My favorite poem in this collection is "The First Water is the Body". I think everyone should read this poem, it is not only passionate, it makes you feel how urgent it is that we all see how much a part of us water is. And when she speaks of her lover, those parts are beautiful, I must keep going back to them. It´s such a beautiful collection, straight to my favorite books of poetry ever.

"I arrive at you-half bestia, half feast."
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,049 followers
January 4, 2021
This was one of my highly anticipated reads for National Poetry Month after really loving her last collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec. There are some poems in this collection about her brother, but far more about romantic love (delightfully steamy!)... Other themes include the disappearing indigenous people (due to increasing violence and other types of erasure) and... basketball/

Some of my favorites in the first reading were American Arithmetic and Ode to the Beloved's Hips.

Here is a video of American Arithmetic, and here is the text.

And here's the poet reading Ode to the Beloved's Hips.
Profile Image for Ulysse.
278 reviews111 followers
February 23, 2023

Here are poems written in the language of rivers.

Poems where the people are rivers and the rivers are people. I carry a river. It is who I am:…This is not a metaphor.

Where what separates the human body from the natural world does not exist.

Where the human heart rivers.

Where the rivers weep.

Where hip and collarbone are transitive verbs, and rattlesnakes first names you avoid adorning yourself with.

Where basketball is a game played on a cosmic level, with a scoreboard of stars in the night sky.

Where a lover is a landscape to be explored. (This is not a metaphor either.)

Where brothers play with needles and crawl in through the windows of their sisters’s pain.

Where to write is to be eaten. To read, to be full.

Where somebody’s country has been occupied, poisoned and renamed.

Where sovereignty has put its concrete stamp on everything.

Where people and rivers are disappearing.

Where water remembers.

Where water is gathering strength.

Where water is planning a coup.

Where water is writing poems.

Where new rivers are being born.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,001 reviews35.9k followers
September 10, 2021
These poems explore Native American culture, mental illness…. discrimination, injustice, race. indigenous women, Latine culture, queer community, addictions, violence, family, love, sex, identity, intimacy, and history…..
…..poems written with purpose, and powerful intentional thoughts….
They feel personal, private, and raw……
Gorgeously haunting and luminous prose.
Profile Image for Dani.
51 reviews468 followers
November 23, 2020
Miigwech to @graywolfpress for the gifted copy.

“In American imaginations, the logic of this image will lend itself to surrealism or magical realism—

Americans prefer a magical red Indian, or a shaman, or a fake Indian and a red dress, over a real Native. Even a real Native caring the dangerous and heavy blues of a river in her body.

What threatens white people is often dismissed as myth. I've never been true in America. America is my myth.”

Postcolonial Love Poem by queer writer Natalie Diaz (Mojave, Latinx, Gila River NDN Tribe) was everything I needed: emotive, skillfully crafted, a glimpse of light in colonial darkness.

I think it’s quite common for folks to be enthralled with certain poems & feel a slight disconnect with others & while that was the case for me here, the poems that didn’t necessarily resonate deeply were still very good & I’m sure are favourites of others. After reading this collection I was INSPIRED. I wrote for hours & hours. I can’t really demonstrate how significant this is but I’ll just say I’d been suffering from months long writers block.

I deeply connect with poetry where I can see pieces of myself which is why I love Indigenous poetry (although I do want to branch out.) There has always been a power in seeing your lived experience on the page of another. A sense of solidarity, kinship, relation.

Diaz demonstrates the sacredness of land, the readiness of white folks to accept the mythical NDN, institutional racism, addiction in the family system, colonial genocide and the tragic fate so many ancestors have met, the dreaded place where they & sacred objects lay: A Museum.

But there is more: Decolonial Love, the power of language, freedom found in basketball, the persistence of ceremony & culture & water in the midst of colonialism.

I’ve said it again & I’ll say it here too: writing like this proves that Indigenous people of Turtle Island will never vacate.
Profile Image for Vartika.
373 reviews604 followers
December 18, 2020
I will for once agree with the blurb of a poetry collection: Postcolonial Love Poem is a thundering river of a book; I found myself drinking hungrily at the mouth of nearly every poem within. The stream of Natalie Diaz's voice flows clear and intensely lyrical, each poem an assertion of being, of beating, of grief and loss and passion and ecstacy. Each poem is, too, a body—of water, of a lover, of brownness in a land made forcibly white, of Native Americans who have long been and continue to be impoverished of their land and selfhood:
In American imaginations, the logic of this image will lend itself to surrealism or magical realism—

Americans prefer a magical red Indian, or a shaman, or a fake Indian in a red dress, over a real Native. Even a real Native carrying the dangerous and heavy blues of a river in her body.

What threatens white people is often dismissed as myth. I have never been true in America. America is my myth.
Often Diaz's voice is so fierce, she's almost roaring, writing from the center of several "wars"—against genocidal erasure and institutional racism, against environmental destruction, against her brother's drug addiction and the deprivation of reservations.

And then there is a burst of tenderness as she "wage[s] love," queer and erotic, the body of latinx women transfigured from overtly sexualised to transfigured into gems, hinged at the hinges that are the hips—the anatomy of sensuality rewritten. Think: the cool, silken texture of water lapping at your ankles. Think: an honest puckering of the hair at the back of your neck. Those are some of the sensations these poems bring back to mind.

There's humour, too, rising with a sardonic lilt, always tugging at the thread—or river—that runs through the length of this collection: of anguish and loss of Native culture, voice, history; the fact of being dispossessed of both the past and a present. For instance, Diaz has ten answers questions for why Indians are so good at Basketball, one of which goes
Because a long time ago, Creator gave us a choice: You can write like an Indian god, or you can have a jump shot sweeter than a 44oz. can of government grape juice—one or the other. Everyone but Sherman Alexie chose the jump shot.
Through her astounding vocabulary (in at least three languages, including Mojave which she has famously spent many years helping preserve), Diaz battles it out against the degradation of the earth, her people, their bodies by the American state and by American values; exploring each through the gaps in translations and through the words and influences of Mahmoud Darwish, John Berger, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton, Borges. Would she could exhaust you with meaning, with the sheer force of her words, at the end of which there lies only amazement at her glowing talents.

Postcolonial Love Poem is a momentous literary event, poetry that deserves to see much recognition and wide anthologisation. It screams and breathes and devours and shakes you and energises you to the core. It is unmissable.


My favourites from the collection:

1. The First Water is the Body
2. exhibits at the American Water Museum
3. Blood-Light
4. Ode to the Beloved’s Hips
5. Isn’t the Air Also a Body, Moving?
6. From the Desire Field
7. American Arithmetic
8. That Which Cannot be Stilled
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,602 reviews2,571 followers
February 14, 2022
Diaz, raised on a Mojave reservation in California, won the Pulitzer Prize for this honey-thick exploration of queer Native American identity. There are lustful moments aplenty here—
My lover comes to me like darkfall—long,
and through my open window. Mullion, transom. […]
I keep time on the hematite clocks of her shoulders.

(from “Like Church”)

—but the mineral-heavy imagery (“the agate cups of your palms …the bronzed lamp of my breast”) is so weirdly archaic and the vocabulary so technical that I kept thinking of the Song of Solomon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not the model I expected to find.

So I ended up preferring the forthright political poems about contemporary Native American life. Police shootings, pipeline protests: it’s a fact that her people are disproportionately persecuted (see “American Arithmetic”). Her brother’s drug abuse and mental illness also form a repeating subject (e.g., “It Was the Animals”).

The collection is as much of a love poem to land as it is to a woman, with water bodies described as affectionately as female bodies. “The Colorado River is the most endangered river in the United States—also, it is a part of my body” is the opening line of “The First Water Is the Body”; see also “exhibits from the American Water Museum.”

My favourite single poem, “If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert,” is sexy but also, charmingly, features echoes of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”:
I will swing my lasso of headlights
across your front porch,

let it drop like a rope of knotted light
at your feet.

While I put the car in park,
you will tie and tighten the loop

of light around your waist—
and I will be there with the other end

wrapped three times
around my hips horned with loneliness.


I will lie down in you.
Eat my meals at the red table of your heart.

Each steaming bowl will be, Just right.
I will eat it all up,

break all your chairs to pieces.

Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,937 followers
December 20, 2021
“Only a fraction / of a body, let’s say, I am only a hand— / and when I slip it beneath the shirt of my lover / I disappear completely.”

Natalie Diaz why would you SAY THIS TO ME I am not mentally stable enough to handle it!!!!!!

Some of the poems were, I felt, weighed down a bit by flowery language, so I wasn’t able to fully comprehend them (and I personally don’t prefer poems of that writing style). But I think this is a very beautiful and lyrical collection, about love and violence toward other people and the land, and I can’t wait to check out Diaz’s other works.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
917 reviews947 followers
July 16, 2020
Well with only a day spent listening to her, it is immediately clear to me she is one of the greatest contemporary poets I have come across so far. This collection is a masterpiece and the title poem in particular seems destined to be anthologised indefinitely. Hopefully this will end up winning all the damn prizes.

Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books924 followers
June 21, 2021
This just won a major award. Only which one? I can't keep track, honestly. Booker? Pulitzer? Postcolonial League? I did see, in the Acknowledgments Page, that Natalie exchanged poems via snail mail with Ada Limón, which is something Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser did, which I really love to read about because it's old school and my middle name.

In any event, the Diaz book reminded me mightily of her first outing, the one with a long title about her brother, who strikes me as an endlessly fascinating ex-jock turned addict. Booze, maybe? Dunno, really, but yet another sad story that we never tire of reading because there are as many variations as Paganini.

Diaz. She has a way with words. She writes stuff like "the ambulance's rose of light / blooming against the window," and I can picture that nicely. Her topics are fairly consistent, too. Chiefly Indian affairs. Water and its importance to life and to Indians and indigenous people throughout the world (who value it more than the capitalists, who want to buy it and own it and charge for it and pollute it). There's even a few poems about her older brother, the once basketball king of the Rez.

The only poems that wore me down a bit were the love poems. Specifically poems about her lover's hips. Poem after poem. Metaphor after metaphor for hips. I wanted to read Lucille Clifton's poem, "homage to my hips," and be done with it already.

Anyway, a por exemple poem:

My Brother, My Wound

He was calling in the bulls from the street.
They came like a dark river — 
a blur of chest and hoof — 
everything moving, under, splinter — hooked
their horns through the walls. Light hummed
the holes like yellow jackets. My mouth
was a nest torn empty.

Then, he was at the table.
Then, in the pig’s jaws — 
he was not hungry. He was stop.
He was bad apple. He was choking.

So I punched my fists against his stomach.
Mars flew out
and broke open or bloomed — 
how many small red eyes shut in that husk?

He said, Look. Look. And they did.

He said, Lift up your shirt. And I did.

He slid his fork beneath my ribs — 
Yes, he sang. A Jesus side wound.
It wouldn’t stop bleeding.
He reached inside
and turned on the lamp — 

I never knew I was also a lamp — until the light
fell out of me, dripped down my thigh, flew up in me,
caught in my throat like a canary.
Canaries really means dogs, he said.

He put on his shoes.
You started this with your mouth, he pointed.
Where are you going? I asked.
To ride the Ferris wheel, he answered,
and climbed inside me like a window.
Profile Image for elisa.
199 reviews1,270 followers
January 15, 2023
there's a bit of linguistic redundancy in postcolonial love poem and the poetry does flag slightly in the middle, but to be able to produce lines like the following...

gone to ravel, to silhouette, to moths at the mercy / of the pale of her hips. Hips that in the early night / to light lit up—to shining sweet electricus, / to luminous and lamp—where ached to drink / I did till drunk.

...........you have to be a MASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pulitzer deserved.
Profile Image for Zoraida.
Author 35 books4,005 followers
July 20, 2022
This kept me good company while I had COVID.
Profile Image for Jenna.
Author 9 books326 followers
June 30, 2021
With its gorgeously lyrical, shamelessly self-mythologizing expressions of eros and ecstasy, this book reminded me of what got me interested in poetry in the first place. Diaz's love poems are a worthy contribution to the great tradition of erotic verse established by the Song of Songs poet, Sappho, Mirabai, Sor Juana, et al., but they stand apart from the rest in that they are proudly, solidly positioned in the vantage of a contemporary Native American, someone with the authority to speak to the abuses of American empire, including (though not limited to) its pollution of water and the environment. There is also an uneasily intertwining narrative thread about a brother with mental illness.

Diaz's vocabulary is immense, as is her fluency with different world mythologies; her ways of juxtaposing words, colors, and images are various, magicianly and surprising. "A silk-red shadow unbolting like water / through the orchard of her thigh." "I sleep her bees with my mouth of smoke, / dip honey with my hands stung sweet / on the darksome hive." "The streetlamp beckons the lonely / coyote...by offering its long wrist of light." "Twenty seats of desire, and I am sitting in each one." "Here I...make the crowd pounding in the grandstand / of your iliac crest rise up in you and cheer." "Through the night I swing the sickle of my wonders, / a harvest-work." "Like any desert, I learn myself by what's desired of me-- / and I am demoned by those desires." "Sand grinds like gears between my teeth-- / sparkling, small machinery of want." My favorite poems included "They Don't Love You Like I Love You", "Manhattan Is a Lenape Word", and "It Was the Animals".

I like how Diaz finds a way to make the genre of the love poem not feel frivolous, as it's sometimes thought to be in the contemporary world, but expands it to hold all kinds of observations and feelings (including anger and willingness to name names). It's as if she's undertaken a quest to restore to the genre a sense of relevance, of moral heft, and I'm impressed by the scale of that ambition.
Profile Image for Rosamund Taylor.
Author 1 book122 followers
September 24, 2020
I first became aware of Natalie Diaz's work when I heard her read at the Cork International Poetry Festival. She held the whole audience spellbound: there was an audible intake of breath after every poem she read. Her work is fearless and passionate. As I listened to her read, I felt like she was creating a new horizon -- making a psychic space beyond anything I had experienced before. I was not the only person crying when she finished reading. So I've been anticipating this collection for a long time, and it did not disappoint. A wide-ranging, complex work, Postcolonial Love Poem explores the relationship of Native people with their land and the land that has been destroyed; it inhabits realms of extreme loss and heartbreak; it captures the tenacity of hope and love. Diaz writes some of the most beautiful love poetry I've ever read, capturing queer relationships and sexual intimacy with dream-like beauty and raw realism.

One of the poems I heard Diaz read was Run 'n' Gun, a poem about basketball, which begins, "I learned to play ball on the rez, on outdoor courts where the sky was our ceiling. Only a tribal kid's shot has an arc made of sky." I know so little about sports that I barely know what basketball is, and yet I am consistently floored by this poem. Within the context of the basketball court, Diaz explores the loss of family to addiction, the joy in the physical strength of the body and winning against the bigger kids, and the relationships between nature, concrete and pride. As she says, "we won by doing what all Indians before us had done against their bigger, whiter opponents -- we became coyotes and rivers, and we ran faster than their fancy kicks could, up and down the court, game after game. We became the weather." I'm thrilled to finally be able to reread this poem, having only heard it once some years ago. It remains completely captivating.

Diaz's work also captures the destruction of the landscape, and the loss of the natural world to greed, mismanagement and entitlement. In The First Body is Water she explores her relationship, and the Mojave relationship, with water, specifically the Colorado River. She writes, "I carry a river. It is who I am: 'Aha Makav. This is not a metaphor. [...] The river runs through the middle of my body." The Colorado river is also "the most endangered river in the United States." This is a poem of grief, and a poem of rage, exploring the loss and destruction of the Colorado river, asking, "What does 'Aha Makav mean if the river is emptied to the skeleton of its fish and the miniature sand dunes of its dry silten beds? [...] Unsoothable thirst is one type of haunting." Diaz explores the theme of water and its destruction in several long lyrics in this collection, including exhibits from The American Water Museum. Here she explores the loss of drinkable water, the meaning of thirst, and thirst as a form of grieving, in many different sections, all of which are imaginary exhibits at the water museum. Here, her lens travels beyond the Colorado river, to the poisoned water in the town of Flint, Michigan, the damming of rivers all over the US, and to South America, where US companies bought the rights to water and, "The companies say, Read these documents -- / we bought the rain too. // We own the rain."

Heartbreaking and yet beautiful, Diaz's work creates new spaces for understanding and thought. This collection balances her exploration of grief with poems about love and family. She is wonderful at capturing the way sex between women eroticises parts of the body not traditional considered sensual -- as in These Hands, If Not Gods, asking, "Aren't they, too, the carpenters / of your small church? Have they not burned / on the alter of your belly [...]?"or in Ode to the Beloved's Hips, which is so moving because Diaz refuses to be embarrassed or to draw her attention away from that which she finds beautiful. She writes, "O, the places I have laid them, knelt and scooped / the amber -- fast honey -- from their openness" and "They are the sign: hip. And the cosign: a great book -- / the body's Bible opened up to its Good News Gospel". These are long poems, poems in which Diaz gives space and voice to her desire. Female desire is rarely explored, and these go a long way to rectify that. Each one feels like a gift.

Another poem I keep returning to is Snake-Light, an exploration of creation and creativity, the importance of the snake as a being, the relationship we have with our bodies, a fantastic depiction of a desert landscape, and a poem that questions what language is and what it can be. Diaz's language is consistently imaginative and precise, and there is much from this poem that I could quote. These lines, in particular, move me:

Lines are shed like snakeskin, rubbed against
the rough white page, released. Not remembered
or unremembered. The body leaving itself for itself.

Each new line its own body, made possible
by the first body, and here now entering
the rooms of our eye and ear.

The new body is how the rattlesnake knows itself --
not as less body but as whole body.

This collections is a staggering achievement, that deserves to read widely and often. It's hard to understate the impact of this work. Natalie Diaz is one of the most important poets writing this century.
Profile Image for Jerrie.
986 reviews129 followers
March 25, 2020
The title is apt for this one. This collection includes not only poems about romantic love, but also love for the land and water, her brother, and Native peoples. Wonderful use of language in these beautiful poems.
Profile Image for Book Clubbed.
146 reviews165 followers
February 7, 2021
I am a simple fiction boy, but I do like to dip my toes into the dark arts of poetry.

This is an excellent collection with lean, powerful writing.

I wish we had more writers like Natalie Diaz in the world.
Profile Image for S P.
375 reviews79 followers
May 16, 2020
Rich, lyrical collection of poems invoking the entire world-vein in its ambitious, occasionally sardonic, yet ultimately tender purview. These are poems of transformation and sublimation: infused with minerals, ores, gems, bodies of water, Native bodies; they dazzle and gleam with language, with science. Natural indigenous stories are excavated, their geologies and archeologies are unrooted by Diaz's encyclopaedic, masterful grasp of language, translation and myth. We breeze past Biblical, Greek and Native references, Borges to Darwish to Rihanna. The poems are vibrant and ornate, adept at building their own momentum, culminating with the formidable long-poems 'The First Water Is the Body', 'exhibits from The American Water Museum' and 'Snake-Light'.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,853 reviews1,367 followers
July 8, 2020
In Mojave, our words for want and need are the same – because why would you want what you don’t need?

There was an initial uncertainty about this collection. This was resolved about a third of the way through with a sweeping disquisition on the Colorado River and the act of translation as the aquifer of the soul. The crushing weight of history is prominent here. Vanity and materialism jeer like cranky crows. Addiction is a sour wind. The only true paths are obscured, half-hidden and sometimes jutting in dreams. I truly recommend this work.
Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
314 reviews1,966 followers
August 16, 2020
Some of my favorites from this:

"The First Water Is the Body"
"exhibits from The America Water Museum"
"It Was the Animals"
"American Arithmetic"
"They Don't Love You Like I Love You"
and pretty much any poem with the basketball + indigeneity + siblings combo
Profile Image for Adriana Scarpin.
1,379 reviews
October 15, 2022
Na minha última aula na especialização sobre filosofia de mulheres alguém comentou que nos povos em que as mulheres são associadas com a água a igualdade de gênero é mais presente.
Lendo essa maravilhosa obra de Natalie Diaz a epifania se fez presente no seu constante tratar do corpo, um corpo em forma de rio, um corpo fluído não binário.
O que nos leva a outro momento de um dos seus poemas que nos traz o poder da linguagem em tradução, uma linguagem que não está nem cá nem lá, não é a língua original, mas tampouco é a língua outra, a tradução é por si só uma fluidez não binária, um riocorrente, riverrun.
Esse livro saiu no Brasil pela Fósforo, não sei se na tradução eu teria todas as epifanias que tive o lendo no original, já que se faz uma língua outra e por isso mesmo a manifestação inconsciente se dá em um novo formato, só sei que foi uma experiência intensa e inesquecível.
Profile Image for Patricia Murphy.
Author 3 books107 followers
April 24, 2020
I relate viscerally to the brother poems.

One way to open a body to the stars, with a knife. One way to love a sister, help her bleed light.

Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. Let me call it, a garden.

Is this the glittering world I’ve been begging for?

What do you call a group of worms if not a worry, if not a wonder?

I have a name, yet no one who will say it not roughly.

Displaying 1 - 30 of 878 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.