I present this short reading as a gesture of gratitude to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences for the Sarton Award for Poetry. The first poem in this reading, “When White Hawks Come,” is from my debut collection Corpse Whale. The second and third poems, “A Glacial Oil World” and “A Year Dot,” are from my forthcoming collection Blood Snow, which will be published later this year, ten years after Corpse Whale.
In addition to the Academy, I would like to thank May Sarton for being the exuberant, wonderful person and poet that she was. I’ve read some of her work and am astounded by her words and her knowledge, her ideas and thoughts and feelings. I aspire to continue her legacy as a student of words and poetry.
I would be remiss if I did not thank the countless teachers, mentors, and peers who saw my potential and contributed to my growth as a writer of heart and soul. This includes Arthur Sze, Sherwin Bitsui, Jennifer Foerster, Heather Cahoon, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Marilyn Nelson, Shannon Riley, Joe McDonald, Corwin Clairmont, Jon Davis, and Evalina Lusaro. I am also grateful to the institutions that have shaped and nurtured me, including the Academy of American Poets, Salish Kootenai College, and the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Finally, I would like to thank Creator for bringing me here and giving me this chance to see what I need to bring about in this world.
About the Artist
dg nanouk okpik is a poet. okpik (Iñupiaq-Inuit) won an American Book Award in 2012 with her debut collection Corpse Whale published by University of Arizona Press. Since then, her work has been included in several anthologies, including New Poets of Native Nations and Sling: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas. Much of okpik’s poetry is set in Alaska, where she was raised. okpik holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, an MFA from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast, and was a recipient of the Truman Capote Literary Trust Scholarship. Her forthcoming collection Blood Snow will be released this fall by Wave Books.
Visual art by Kenojuak Ashevak, courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts. Artworks in order of appearance: “Bears and Owls,” “Owl Spirit,” “Evening Spirit,” “Woman Who Lives in the Sun,” “Owls and Bears” and “Owl Spirit.”
Kenojuak Ashevak (Inuit) was one of Canada’s most acclaimed graphic artists. Ashevak was regarded as a pioneer of modern Inuit art for her drawings and prints, which comprised of simple, stylized motifs and coded symbols of Inuit culture and folklore. Her work became widely known in Canadian culture through its reproductions on postage stamps, currency, and exhibits in national museums. She was inducted in Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2001 and died in 2013.
“When White Hawks Come” from Corpse Whale, by dg nanouk okpik. © 2012 The Arizona Board of Regents. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press.
Poems “A Glacial Oil World” and “A Year Dot” from Blood Snow, forthcoming fall 2022 from Wave Books. Used with permission.
Commission on the Arts
The Commission - drawing on the expertise of its members who are artists, scholars, activists, and leaders, as well as the input of people across the country who participated in listening sessions - dedicated itself to recognizing and supporting the essential role of the arts and artists in American life.