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San Diego State University

Water Lives in Words


The way we think about water is profoundly shaped by the places we live and the lessons we take from our culture. Literature has the power to change the way we see and think about the environments we live in--research shows that when literature is woven into public exhibits on conservation, understanding of the importance of conservation is boosted by 48%! In November, we will bring to campus distinguished Native American poet Ofelia Zepeda for visits with students and a special reading, to share with us the power of poetry in shaping the way we appreciate water. Zepeda is a member of the Tohono O'odham nation, whose homelands are the arid deserts of southern Arizona. We invite you to attend her readings and also to read and teach this short packet of her poems as well as statements on the importance of poetry to conservation efforts. 

Ofelia Zepeda is a member of the Tohono O’odham tribe of southern Arizona and a distinguished scholar and author whose work has focused on the crucial value of water for indigenous desert peoples. She is an honored linguist, language preservationist, and poet. She is Regents Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona, where she chaired the Department of American Indian Studies and founded the nationally recognized American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI). She is also the author of three books of poems written in English and Tohono O’odham: Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert, Jewed’l-hoi/Earth Movements, O’odham Poems, and Where Clouds are Formed. Zepeda was honored with a 1999 MacArthur Fellowship for her contributions as a poet, linguist, and cultural preservationist.





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Date: November 13, 2013

Time: 7 PM

Location: Love Library 430 [Map]



Faculty Project Director:


Joanna Brooks, Ph.D.,

Department of English and Comparative Literature