Light As Light is acclaimed poet Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection in twenty years. The poems in this volume celebrate the wonders and joy of love in the present while also looking back with both humorous and serious reflections on youth and the stories, scenes, people, and places that shape a person’s life. Light As Light brims with giddy, wistful long-distance love poems that offer a dialogue between the speaker and his beloved. Written in Ortiz’s signature conversational style, this volume claims poetry for everyday life as the poems find the speaker on a morning run, burnt out from academic responsibilities, missing his beloved, reflecting on sobriety, walking the dog, and pondering the act of poem making. The collection also includes prayer poems written for the speaker’s son; poems that retell traditional Acoma stories and history; and poems that engage environmental, political, and social justice issues—making for a well-rounded collection that blends the playful and the profound.
The poems in Light As Light travel far across both space and memory, landing everywhere from the New Mexico of the speaker’s childhood, to California, Tucson, and present-day Beijing, and many airports, highways, and way stations in between. The central concern uniting this collection is language itself: the weight and significance of English and Keres, as well as the nature and power of poetry as a way of life. No collection of Indigenous literature is complete without the work of Simon Ortiz, and this book is a powerful journey through the poet’s life—both a love letter to the future, and a sentimental, authentic celebration of the past.
Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and storyteller, and a retired Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies at Arizona State University.
“Light As Light is an illuminating and guiding soundscape that carefully delivers the intrigue of meanderings, of wanderings through an elder’s clever bundling-up of the real stuff of life. There is so much love here, subtly coupled with deeper presence of lived matters and intimate knowings of the multitude of places, times, and characters populating these pages, often infused with a touch of yes, this is it—life, knowing, enjoying! Ortiz brings us to ease in reason in this generous offering of intimate light.”—Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, author of Look at This Blue
“In so many ways, Simon continues to stand tall among all his fellow poets. I remember fifty-odd years ago, at the University of New Mexico, there were some poet wannabes in and around just starting the Native American studies program, and this Simon guy stood strong among us, urging all to write their poems and not just talk about it all. An Indian student writing poems? Yes! And Simon energized us all, then as well as now. Especially now. Especially now. Stay strong, Simon.”—Geary Hobson, author Plain of Jars: And Other Stories
“When Pueblo people dance, they dance for everybody—for all beings, the Earth, cosmos, and everything beyond that. Simon Ortiz has always sent poems as blessings, linguistic mosaics reflecting back the spirit in all things. Where else can you find histories telling us that volcanic black rock is either ‘yei monster's blood,’ or ‘very sticky and gooey pine pitch’ thrown up to kill the monster, depending on whose story you’re hearing? Simon is the master poet; this new volume is one more masterwork.”—Mark Rudd, author of Underground: My Life with the SDS and the Weathermen