Natalie Diaz was born on September 4, 1978, and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe, she received her BA and MFA from Old Dominion University.
Diaz is the author of Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and finalist for the National Book Award and the Forward Prize in Poetry, and When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), winner of an American Book Award.
Of her work, Academy Chancellor Dorianne Laux says,
Natalie Diaz is a poet who calls out to us in so many ways, who reaches out to embrace her lover, her people, and her country. A speaker of Mojave, Spanish and English, she has developed a language all her own. She calls attention to language both in her poetry and in her efforts to preserve her native tongue through the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program where she works with its last remaining speakers. Native language, she says, is the “foundation of the American poetic lexicon” and believes it is an “important and dangerous time for language.” There is no better emissary for poetry and the cultures, values and history it embraces, as well as the beauty and power of the human voice.
Diaz has received fellowships from The MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Literary Foundation, the Native Arts Council Foundation, and Princeton University. She was awarded the 2023 Arts and Letters Award in Literature and the Princeton Holmes National Poetry Prize. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the United States Artists, where she is an alumnus of the Ford Fellowship. A language activist, Diaz is director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University, where she teaches in the MFA program. In 2021, Diaz was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Phoenix.