About the Big Read
The University of Arizona was selected from other grant applications for 2022-2023 to host an NEA Big Read for the Tucson community.
Big Read: Tucson is a three-month-long series of multi-sited public literary events in Spring 2023, centered around a book of poetry: Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem (2020). NEA’s Big Read program is meant to spark a love of reading and community-building across the US. Over the span of three months—from our kickoff in January 2023 to our finale at The Tucson Festival of Books in March—we will host public projects, public presentations, and book discussions, all with the aim of generating first-hand experiences with the imaginative power of literature and the pleasure of collective discussion. We plan to purchase at least 1000 copies of the books to give away at all the events listed below. Our hope to reach an expansive, intergenerational audience who will engage with both books in various ways.
We selected Diaz’s book for several reasons, including that Diaz’s poems are filled with water. Diaz grew up on the border of California, Arizona, and Nevada. As an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community and a Mojave American, Diaz’s roots are interwoven with water—the scarcity of which she feels in a spiritual, urgent, and embodied way: “The Colorado River is the most endangered river in the United States—also, it is a part of my body” (PLP, 46). These poems offer us an invaluable opportunity to feature water as the key theme. We invite the community to consider her work in conversation with places in Tucson where we strongly feel the presence (or absence) of water, from the Santa Cruz River Path to the Mission Gardens.
We have also chosen a compelling children’s picturebook to pair with Postcolonial Love Poem. We are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom (Ojibwe) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska). Like Diaz’ work, this book addresses the importance of water within and beyond Indigenous communities, and the role we all have to take care of the lands and waters we depend on.
We are Water Protectors written by Carole Lindstrom (Ojibwe) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes)
Thursday February 2, 2023: The Big Read Book Discussion - Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Join us for a lively and engaging book discussion.
About the Author, from Gray Wolf Press: "Natalie Diaz is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community and a Mojave American, Diaz’s roots are interwoven with water—the scarcity of which she feels in a spiritual, urgent, and embodied way: “The Colorado River is the most endangered river in the United States—also, it is a part of my body” (PLP, 46). These poems offer us an invaluable opportunity to feature water as the key theme. We invite the community to consider her work in conversation with places in Tucson where we strongly feel the presence (or absence) of water, from the Santa Cruz River Path to the Mission Gardens."
Thursday, February 9, 2023: The Big Read Book Discussion - We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Join us for a lively and engaging book discussion.
"...a compelling children’s picturebook ... We are Water Protectors, written by Carole Lindstrom (Ojibwe) and illustrated by Michaela Goade (Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)...this book addresses the importance of water within and beyond Indigenous communities, and the role we all have to take care of the lands and waters we depend on." -Big Read Arizona
Saturday, February 11, 2023: Professional Learning Opportunity - Engaging Children with Indigenous Literature, 10:00 am - Noon
This PLO focuses around the picture book, We are Water Protectors by Lindstrom and Goade, and Postcolonial Love Poems by Natalie Diaz. Attendees will receive free copies of these two Indigenous books, plus be able to select other non-Indigenous books for their classrooms. Attendees will receive a professional development certificate. Learn more and RSVP by Jan. 30!
Friday, February 17, 2023: Imagination Friday with Michaela Goade, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Join us to meet Michaela Goade, illustrator of We Are Water Protectors, winner of the Caldecott medal. Michaela is the first Indigenous illustrator to win this award. We are celebrating her book in the Big Read initiative due to its focus on water as the first medicine that affects and connects all of us. When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison the water, one young water protector takes a stance to defend Earth’s most sacred resource.
Michaela will talk about her process of creating illustrations for the book and provide an illustrating invitation for children. She will also answer questions.
Michaela Goade is an enrolled member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Her Tlingit name is Sheit.een and she is of the Kiks.á Clan (Raven/Frog) from Sheet’ká. She works as an illustrator with Indigenous authors and tribal organizations in the creation of beautiful and much-needed books. Her recent books include I Sang You Down the Stars, Berry Song, and Remember.
Sunday, February 26, 3 pm hosted and led by Rez Girls Book Club, Book Discussion
Join the WOW Center Teen Reading Ambassadors (TRAP) as we discuss Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz and We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade as part of the National Endowment of the Arts' (NEA) Big Read Tucson.
For more information on the WOW Teen Reading Ambassadors (TRAP), visit wowlit.org.
Listen to the podcast by teens. This podcast was recorded in the Digital Innovation and Learning Lab (DIALL) in the UArizona College of Education with assistance from the UA COE Tech Team. Co-Producer: Rebecca Ballenger, WOW Center Associate Director, Co-Producer: Sara Logan, MSRAP Literature Discussant and COE Graduate Student, Audio Engineer: Liam Arias, Student Employee and Radio, TV, Film Major.
Saturday and Sunday, March 4 & 5: The Tucson Tome Gnome will be partnering with "Big Read Tucson" to hide 30 copies (15 copies each day) of Natalie Diaz's Postcolonial Love Poem around the Tucson Festival of Books for attendees to find
The Tucson Tome Gnome was founded in 2021 to bolster a culture and community that is united in the joy of reading by providing free books to inspire literacy, reading, and happiness. Every month, the Tome Gnome selects a book and hides 30 copies of it all over Tucson for our friends and neighbors to find. When people find a book, they are asked to take it, read it, enjoy it, and leave it somewhere fun for the next person to discover - - - creating a "pay-it-forward" of bookish joy and delight. The Tome Gnome is excited to partner with "Big Read Tucson" on this special book-hiding/book-finding weekend of fun at the Tucson Festival of Books!
Sunday, March 5, 2023: "Poetexts of Love: A Community Celebration" author presentation with Natalie Diaz at the Tucson Festival of Books
The 2023 Big Read program in Tucson invited the public to read and discuss Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz as a community all-read. The collection received a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2021. In it, Diaz reflects on her heritage and her life as an Indigenous person growing up in the Southwest. Diaz's appearance today caps a 3-month series of Tucson events that have probed the themes voiced in her collection. WNPA Stage (seats 146)
Sales & Signing Area - National Parks (following presentation)
Moderator: Diana Marie Delgado
Thursday, April 6, 2023: "Walking along the Santa Cruz Heritage Project"
On April 6 at 5:30 PM, join us for a walk along the Santa Cruz Heritage Project, for a pairing of Diaz' poetry and a tour from ecologist Dr. Michael Bogan of how the return of perennial flow is shaping the ecosystem. The walk will begin at the outfall, which is approximately one-quarter mile south of West Starr Pass Boulevard on the east side of the Chuck Huckleberry Loop trail (Map).
Other events pending confirmation.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS BIG READ
The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, a partnership with Arts Midwest, broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every congressional district in the country.
- Make Way for Books
- Indigenous Teacher Education Program (ITEP)
- American Indian Language Development Institute
- Sunnyside Unified School District
- Mission Gardens
- Tucson Festival of Books
- Pima County Public Library
- Tucson Water
The project is directed by Sandra Soto, Carol Brochin, and Leah Durán in partnership with College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Kathy G. Short, and the Worlds of Words Center in the College of Education and involves many collaborations with local community groups.