Natalie Diaz’s second collection plunges the reader into Native American culture and bold takes on sexual love

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She grew up on the banks of the Colorado river and water is her element. Her second collection, nominated for the Forward prize, is authoritative, original and sinuous. It is a fascinating plunge into Diaz’s culture, especially in The First Water Is the Body, a long, defiant, breathtaking poem in which she shares the way she sees river and person as one: “The river runs through the middle of my body.” Water and its fate are also fused with the treatment of Native American people as “exhibits from The American Water Museum” states plainly:

Let me tell you a story about water:
Once upon a time there was us.
America’s thirst tried to drink us away.
And here we still are.

Related: Natalie Diaz: ‘It is an important and dangerous time for language’

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