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by Julie Swarstad
Ofelia Zepeda is a Tohono O'odham poet and professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona. Her works include Where Clouds are Formed (2008), Ocean Power (1995), Home Places: Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks (1995), A Papago Grammar (1983), and When It Rains, Papago and Pima Poetry = Mat hekid o ju, 'O'odham Na-cegitodag (1982). She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1999 and is the Poet Laureate of Tucson.
Ofelia Zepeda will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, Septemer 10th at 8 p.m. along with Natalia Toldeo, Alberto Rios, and Sherwin Bitsui.
From the first lines of her latest collection, Where Clouds are Formed, Ofelia Zepeda makes it clear that she sees the world with a preciseness of vision that few writers achieve as completely as she does. Where Clouds are Formed explores memory, experience, and myth while remaining firmly situated within the landscape of southern Arizona. Zepeda lays out her stories and ideas bit by bit in short, almost clipped statements which reveal her ideas at a restrained, thoughtful pace. "The piece of skin riding on my shoe falls," she writes, "At dusk a coyote wanders through the wash. / He picks up my scent. / It leads nowhere." Zepeda's sentences are tightly packed with just what is needed to convey her ideas in a clear, seemingly straightforward way.