We invite you into this indigenous space of language, inquiry and wonder as we consider our desert and its many bodies of land, water, language and person. Join us as we constellate our borderlands and the radical imaginations shaped here with those radical imaginations and conversations occurring, and yet to occur, nationally and internationally, along other borders. We welcome you into our conversations as we embrace the tensions of our borderlands — the stories, languages, questions, loves and arts made here — as a necessary part of the futures we have yet to create.

Artists, performers and speakers include:

Hosted by Natalie Diaz, director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, Akimel O’odham poet, MacArthur Fellow, Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in modern and contemporary poetry, and associate professor in the Department of English at Arizona State University.

Followed by a conversation exploring the power of language and art in re-imagining our borderlands. 


Deana Haggag is the President & CEO of United States Artists, a national arts funding organization based in Chicago, IL. Before joining USA in February 2017, she was the Executive Director of The Contemporary, a nomadic and non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, MD, for four years. In addition to her leadership roles, Deana lectures extensively, consults on various art initiatives, contributes to cultural publications, and has taught at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Towson University. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Artistic Director's Council of Prospect.5, and the Advisory Council of Recess. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA from Rutgers University in Art History and Philosophy.
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Korea, South Africa and India. An acclaimed writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she is the author of the essay collection Sidewalks; the novels Faces in the Crowd and The Story of My Teeth; and, most recently, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions. She is the winner of two Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and an American Book Award, and has twice been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize. She has been a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and the recipient of a Bearing Witness Fellowship from the Art for Justice Fund. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in New York City.

Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache) is a Brooklyn, NY composer, musician and artist. She produces solo albums, live performances and film/art soundtracks and frequently collaborates with artists in film, music, art, dance, multi-media, activitism and poetry, such as Tony Conrad, Jock Soto, Raven Chacon, Nanobah Becker, Okkyung Lee, Martin Bisi, Caroline Monnet, Michelle Latimer and Martha Colburn. She plays violin, Apache violin, piano, electric guitar, keyboards, pedal steel guitar, sings through a megaphone, and makes field recordings. Ortman’s notable performances includes venues at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The National Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, MoMA P.S. 1, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, SF MoMA, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The Knitting Factory, CBGB’s, St. Marks Church, Dia Art Foundation, the Wave Farm, amongst countless other established and DIY venues in the US, Canada and Western Europe.
Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, the New York Times, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and an NEA fellowship. She was most recently selected to receive a 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship and the 2017 Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she is currently an Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, published by Graywolf Press in 2016, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
A member of the Tohono O’odham (formerly Papago) Nation, Ofelia Zepeda grew up in Stanfield, Arizona. She earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Arizona. She is the author of a grammar of the Tohono O'odham language, A Papago Grammar (1983). Zepeda’s poetry collections include Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert (1995) and Jewed’l-hoi/Earth Movements, O’Odham Poems (1996). Zepeda was honored with a MacArthur Fellowship (1999) for her contributions as a poet, linguist, and cultural preservationist. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to RSVP?

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required to attend the Reading and Performance Launch Celebration. Seats are first-come, first-serve on the night of the event. However, if you would like more information and to sign up for a reminder for the event, you may do so here.

Will books be for sale?

Palabras Bilingual Bookstore will be selling books from the visiting authors of the event during the reception before the program and after the program. There is not a designated author signing at this event. Guests are welcome to approach the artist after the event during the short coffee period immediately following the program.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

This Reading and Performance Launch Celebration is held on the ASU campus. Parking recommendations may be found at the bottom of this page. Select the orange, grey, or blue markers for parking options.