In Navajo worldview, thought creates the world, which is then spoken into being. This process places sacred value on the power of language. Sherwin Bitsui’s poetry attempts to connect Diné thought to a changed world by translating the present through an encoding rooted in his culture and language. In this excerpt from his talk at Harvard Divinity School, he offered insight into how Navajo thought and language can inform a poetics, thus opening possibilities for poetry.
Sherwin Bitsui is the author of three collections of poetry: Dissolve, Flood Song, and Shapeshift. He is Diné of the Todí¬ch’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizí¬laaní¬ (Many Goats Clan), and has received the Whiting Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN Book Award.