vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.
On Voca, you can hear readings by Poets Laureate of many varieties: of the United States, of Arizona, of Tucson, and in this track, of the Navajo Nation. Luci Tapahonso served as the first Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation from 2013 to 2015; her successor in that role, Laura Tohe, can also be seen and heard on Voca. In this track, Tapahonso reads her poem “That American Flag” at the 2009 Tucson Festival of Books. Mixing present narrative with familial and cultural memory, Tapahonso considers the American flag through the eyes of Navajo experience; in Tapahonso’s verse, this symbol of oppression is transformed into a reminder of the Navajo people’s endurance, courage, and abiding love for their homelands.