by Robert Durborow
Student Advisor, 2014-2016
Pi Omega Chapter
Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
Our 2015 Common Reader is by award-winning Native American poet and writer, Simon J. Ortiz, a native of Deetseyaamah, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. I can think of no more fitting work for our theme, “Borderlands and Enchantments.”
From Sand Creek is a riveting collection of poems in which Ortiz, a featured speaker at the 2015 Convention, examines one of the most infamous episodes in American and Native American history—the 1864 massacre of 600 Cheyenne and Arapaho people at Sand Creek, Colorado. Far from an angry rant or accusatory work, From Sand Creek offers a realistic view of the past and a hopeful, unified view for the future of all Americans, native or otherwise. Thomas McGrath (Letter to an Imaginary Friend) states, “In this work by Simon Ortiz, Sand Creek shines like a dark star over a continent of pain. . .” I can’t say it any better.
As a poet and former soldier in the American armed forces, I found the collection particularly significant and poignant. Ortiz paints vivid pictures in the mind of the reader, in hues of crimson and hope. I literally could not put the book down, compelled to finish the journey started at the front cover. I have never read more thoughtfully composed, moving work. A single stanza typifies the power of the poet: “Memory/is stone, very quiet/like this,/a moment clenched/as knuckles/around gunstock/around steering wheel” (23). Ortiz writes iron. To say more would be to ruin the reader’s experience. Get the book (you’ll thank me).
As we all begin preparations for the next academic year and the Sigma Tau Delta 2015 Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, why not start with a good, insightful, thought provoking read?
- Sigma Tau Delta Convention Submission Guidelines
- From Sand Creek may be purchased from Better World Books for the small sum of $7.48.
Regents’ Common Reader Awards
The Regents’ Common Reader Awards provide an opportunity for individual chapters to organize and host a local event or activity based on From Sand Creek. Chapter members do not need to attend the convention to apply. Contact your Regent and you may receive $100 for your event or activity. View application guidelines.
Common Reader Convention Awards
Awards of up to $600 will be given at the international convention for critical essays or other genres of work that deal with the common reader. To be eligible, students indicate in the convention submission form that their work is in the common reader category (presentation type).