Layli Long Soldier

Grantee:  Layli Long Soldier
Native Citizenship:  Oglala Lakota
Location: Tsaile, Ariz.
Award:  2015 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Literature
Web Site: http://www.pen.org/poetry/whereas

In her writing, Long Soldier emphasizes possibility, not closure. She articulates her message without defining answers. In this way she hopes to reach a wider audience and those who appreciate her talent hope for a new dialogue around her writing.

Long Soldier’s voice is not limited or constrained by the structure of text or words. She has incorporated objects and community engagement topics into the voice of her installation works. For example, in 2012 she created a three-month interactive installation on the Pine Ridge Reservation entitled, “Whereas We Respond.” In this installation, she projected text from the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans on three walls of the gallery. Long Soldier then invited the Lakota community to respond by writing and painting directly on the gallery walls with pastels, charcoal, graphite, acrylics, and markers. The installation was a success. The end of the exhibition packed the gallery walls to the top with responses.

During the coming year, Long Soldier plans to finish a manuscript, start two new chapbooks and collaborate on an installation piece that responds to John Trudell’s (author, poet, actor, musician, and former political activist) proposition that the intellect is the most effective means for resistance. The 2015 National Artist Fellowship is recognition to Layli Long Soldier’s talent and future endeavors.

I am a person with diverse concerns and I occupy many roles—a woman, mother, educator, writer, artist, tribal member, thinker and so on. It is important to me that all of these aspects are evident in a body of work, if not a single poem.
~ Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier reads from and talks about her collection WHEREAS, 2017 (Whiting Awards)

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