In 2017, the Navajo Women’s Commission entered into a partnership with Navajo Technical University (NTU) to develop a creative writing summer program. The Commission set literacy as one of its organizational goals and chose to partner with NTU in recognition of their numerous creative writing programs including their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate program. Since the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute’s (EDWI) inception, leadership has been shared by Co-directors Manny Loley, Diné writer and Adjunct Faculty in the School of Arts & Humanities, and Vivian Arviso, former Chair of the Navajo Women’s Commission.
Now, the 2019 Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute is funded by Navajo Technical University and a grant from the American Indian College Fund.
EDWI aims to motivate and expose Diné high school and college students and community members to acclaimed Diné authors, writers, and local publishers. Participants improve their creative writing ability, work within various genres and forms, and foster an interest in our people to tell their own stories.
EDWI in 2018 was a week-long series of workshops featuring Diné writers Dr. Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation Poet Laureate), Rex Lee Jim (Diné poet, scholar, and former Navajo Nation Vice President), Esther Belin (Diné poet), Orlando White (Diné poet and Diné College faculty), Jake Skeets (Diné poet, Diné College faculty, and winner of the National Poetry Series), Byron Aspaas (Diné non-fiction writer), Chili Yazzie (Diné poet, environmental activist, and Navajo Nation Chapter Government Official), Jacqueline Keeler (Diné national activist and journalist), and Philmer Bluehouse (Diné Medicine Man and oral storyteller). We also hosted visiting writers Dr. Kimberly Blaeser, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-2016, who taught several workshops and gave a reading.
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How the Institute Works
EDWI has both a Writing Scholar agenda and a public agenda. The Writing Scholar agenda includes evening workshops and readings as well as trips to the Navajo Nation Zoo, Navajo Nation Museum, and other regional locales. Navajo high school and college students interested in participating in the Writing Scholar agenda must apply for a Writing Scholar position. Applications can be found here. We are accepting only 20 high school and college students for Writing Scholar positions.
If you are not a current high school or college student and want to attend EDWI, you can attend as a general participant. All you need to do is show up on the first day of the program and register. This event is free to the public. Upon registering, you will receive an agenda and additional items.
If you are accepted into the program as a Writing Scholar, you will receive an email a few weeks before the program with additional instructions and information.