Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is of the Sleepy-Rock People clan and born for the Bitter Water People clan. A poet and librettist, she grew up at the base of the Chuska Mountains in Crystal, New Mexico.

Tohe is the author of Tseyí / Deep in the Rock (University of Arizona Press, 2005), which received the Arizona Book Association’s Glyph Award for Best Poetry and Best Book; No Parole Today (West End Press, 1999), which was named the 1999 Poetry Book of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers; and Making Friends with Water (Nosila Press, 1986). She is also the author of Code Talker Stories (Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2012), a bilingual book of interviews with the remaining Navajo Code Talkers and their descendants, which was a recipient of the Recognition Award from the Labriola National American Indian Data Center at Arizona State University, as well as the coeditor of Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002).

The Phoenix Symphony commissioned Tohe to write the libretto for Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s sixtieth anniversary, in addition to being performed at the University of Utah and the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder. Her most recent libretto, Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World, was performed in Grenoble and Le Havre, France, in 2021. Her work has been published in Belgium, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Peru. Many of her poems have been translated into music for piano, guitar, and trumpet.

Tohe is the recipient of the Arizona Humanities Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award, the Faculty Exemplar Award from Arizona State University, the 2019 American Indian Festival of Words Writers Award, and the 2020–21 Academy of American Poets Fellowship Award. She was nominated for the Pushcart Award three times.

Tohe serves on the board of directors for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) and the Indigenous Nations Poets (In-Na-Po). She is a professor emerita with distinction at Arizona State University and the current poet laureate of the Navajo Nation. In November 2024, she will serve as the Guest Editor of Poem-a-Day.

Read about Laura Tohe’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.