Simon J. Ortiz was in Iowa City in May 2011 as a result of an invitation from a University of Iowa graduate student. Ortiz, who was a participant in the UI’s International Writing Program in the late 1960s, read from his poetry collection From Sand Creek at the Iowa City Public Library and worked with students at West High School. He also sat down for this On the Fly interview.
Ortiz, an Acoma Pueblo Indian, speaks about readers’ interest in his heritage and how it influences his writing, explains the ways in which, for him, “every day is an engaged moment,” and the importance of “having a positive critical belief system.”
Ortiz, who has many books to his credit, has won the National Endowment for the Arts Discovery Award and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, among other honors. From Sand Creek: Rising In This Heart Which Is Our America won the Pushcart Prize in poetry in 1981, the same year Ortiz was recognized at the White House Salute to Poetry.