Tacey M. At­sitty

Poets and Writers - - The Literary Life - RAIN SCALD Univer­sity of New Mex­ico Press

O Holy Peo­ple, show me

how I am hu­man, how I am soon to sliver.

—from “Even­song”

HOW IT BE­GAN: Heal­ing, mostly. In Rain Scald you can find sev­eral his­to­ries that call for cer­e­mony. But this was also my mas­ter’s the­sis, so most of the writ­ing was done in Ithaca, New York, where I lived for two years. Ex­pe­ri­ences I had in the gorges with the Cor­nell Univer­sity com­mu­nity and neigh­bor­ing tribes of Cayuga and Onondaga and Oneida in­flu­enced the ge­n­e­sis of this book. And I took a deeper look into the sto­ries that land holds, both in New York and back home in the canyons of Ari­zona.

IN­SPI­RA­TION: Je­sus Christ, the land, death, love, al­most-loves, mem­ory of child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences, and my fam­ily and an­ces­tors both near and far.

IN­FLU­ENCES: My co­hort at Cor­nell and my pro­fes­sors Alice Ful­ton and Ken­neth McClane had the most in­flu­ence on this work. I gleaned so much from every­one in my work­shops—read­ing, hear­ing, and in­ter­nal­iz­ing their work on a weekly ba­sis for years was a bless­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally I of­ten lis­ten to mu­sic while writ­ing. Once I find the song that holds the emo­tion of the poem, I’ll play it on re­peat for hours, some­times days, un­til the piece I’m work­ing on is ready. One song that helped me im­mensely was Louie Gon­nie’s “Hooghan,” a Navajo early morn­ing bless­ing song, and also Sa­man­tha Crain’s al­bum Songs in the Night.

WRITER’S BLOCK REM­EDY: Prayer, de­sire, and know­ing that I am a writer. It’s my makeup, a big part of who I am.

AD­VICE: I know for some po­ets, my­self in­cluded, it’s not our strong suit to be so­cial, but net­work­ing and join­ing a com­mu­nity of writ­ers can be ben­e­fi­cial, not only for pub­lish­ing one’s work, but for build­ing and strength­en­ing ties and re­la­tion­ships.

AGE: 36. RES­I­DENCE: Salt Lake City. JOB: Na­tive Amer­i­can pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor at a state historical park. TIME SPENT WRIT­ING THE BOOK: The two years of grad­u­ate school. TIME SPENT FIND­ING A

HOME FOR IT: Not a month out of grad­u­ate school I was con­tacted by Laura Tohe, an ac­quir­ing editor for the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico Press. She knew I had re­cently grad­u­ated with my MFA and asked if I had a man­u­script to sub­mit for re­view.

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