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Pulitzer Prize winning poet Natalie Diaz to speak at Creighton commencement

Apr 27, 2022
3 min Read
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Natalie Diaz

Creighton University has announced that Pulitzer Prize winning poet Natalie Diaz will deliver the keynote address at its undergraduate commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Diaz, a language activist and a renowned creative voice, last year became the youngest chancellor ever elected to the Academy of American Poets, just months before her collection “Postcolonial Love Poem,” won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. She is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University and the director of the institution’s Center for Imagination in the Borderlands.

Her inspirational path of influence and enlightenment – Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Reservation and earned a basketball scholarship to Old Dominion before emerging as a leading linguist – exemplifies the enriching, inclusive and globally aware principles that define a Creighton education.

The remarks from Diaz will highlight a celebratory weekend for Creighton undergraduates joining a distinguished and supportive alumni network of more than 77,000.

Hers will be such a unique perspective at this year’s undergraduate commencement and should be a wonderful experience for everyone in attendance.
— The Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD

“As a poet, Natalie is renowned for blending personal, political, and cultural references in works that challenge the systems of belief underlying contemporary American culture. Hers will be such a unique perspective at this year’s undergraduate commencement and should be a wonderful experience for everyone in attendance,” said Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Diaz’s “Postcolonial Love Poem” earned recognition as a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Forward Prize in Poetry. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012), was an American Book Award winner.

Diaz has won the Princeton Holmes National Poetry Prize and the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She’s earned fellowships from The MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Literary Foundation, the Native Arts Council Foundation and Princeton University. She’s a member of the Board of Trustees for the United States Artists.

Diaz, who’s Mojave, is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community. She’s helping to lead a language revitalization program while working with some of the last speakers of Mojave. She teaches in the Master of Fine Arts program at Arizona State.

As part of the ceremony, Diaz will also receive an honorary degree from Creighton.