The Institute brings together acclaimed Diné writers and authors to serve as faculty mentors. We also collaborate with institutions like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Northern Arizona University to bring non-Diné writers and authors to campus. EDWI participants study with these faculty mentors in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, journalism, song writing, and much more. Faculty mentors also include Diné medicine people who share cultural stories.
2019 EDWI Faculty Mentors and Presenters
Celeste Adame, Muckleshoot, holds an M.F.A in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her thesis, Lovers Landscape, explores gender identity, sexuality, love, basketball, and landscapes of both Washington and New Mexico. Adame’s work has been published in the Yellow Medicine Review, As/Us: A Journal for Women of the World, hinchas de poesia, and the Santa Fe Literary Review. She was also one of the poetry editors for the first two editions of Mud City, the online literary review of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Rezidency MFA program.
Byron Aspaas is Táchii’nii born for Tódích’íi’nii. He is from Upper Fruitland, New Mexico. Aspaas received an M.F.A. in nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2013. As a storyteller, he creates stories using vivid imagery, weaving personal experience of carded emotion into textiles of craft within each sentence. His journey includes becoming a teacher and a writer. He shares his personal emergence by evoking his memory through journals like: Weber: The Contemporary Southwest (Spring/Summer 2013), Yellow Medicine Review (Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Spring 2011), and 200 New Mexico Poems (Spring 2013). Aspaas currently resides in Colorado Springs with three cats, six dogs, and a human named Seth.
Sherwin Bitsui is Bįįh Bitoodni Tódích’íi’nii born for Tł’izí Lání; his maternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii and his paternal grandparents are the Mą’íí Deeshgíízhíníí. Bitsui is from White Cone, Arizona. He is the author of Dissolve and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press) and Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press). His honors include the 2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Fellowship for Literature, a PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Bitsui teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Austin Eichelberger is a native Virginian who teaches as much English and writing as he can manage in Santa Fe, New Mexico—when he’s not in class, he’s probably writing or taking photos. He completed his M.F.A. in fiction at the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2018, and over eighty pieces of his creative writing have been published by or are forthcoming from journals and anthologies including Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Pithead Chapel, and Nanoism. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart, and his first solo exhibition, TYPEFACE, opened February 2019. More of his work lives at austineichelberger.com.
LaFrenda Frank is Kinyaa’áanii born for Naaneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii; her maternal grandparents are the Tódích’íi’nii and her paternal grandparents are the Tábąąhá. She is from Jeddito, Arizona. Frank received a B.A. in English and southwest studies from Fort Lewis College and an M.A. in English from Northern Arizona University. She is the current Editor in Chief for Salina Bookshelf in Flagstaff, Arizona and a former Diné College English Instructor. As an editor, she looks for books that accurately and authentically depicts Navajo (or Indigenous) people’s way of life to send a positive message about Native identity to readers. With the transmission of language and culture through books, Frank welcomes authentic voices for publication.
Veronica Golos is the author of three poetry books: A Bell Buried Deep, Vocabulary Silence, and Rootwork. She is a core faculty poetry teacher for Tupelo Press and a reader for the Tupelo Press Dorset Prize. She has lectured at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, Hunter College, Julliard School of Music, Regis University, University of New Mexico, and Colorado State University. Golos is also Consulting Acquisitions Editor for 3: A Taos Press; Co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art; and Co-poetry Editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Her work has been widely published and anthologized nationally and internationally, including Meridians, Drunken Boat, Orbus (London), and Liquor44 (Paris), among others.
Rex Lee Jim is Kin Łichíi’nii born for Táchii’nii; his maternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii and his paternal grandparents are the Naakaii Dine’é. Jim is from Rock Point, Arizona. A poet, playwright, and medicine man, Jim attended Princeton University, Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, and Oxford University in England. He is fluent in Navajo, English, and Spanish. Although known mostly for his political career as former Navajo Nation Vice-President, Jim has extensive experience as a writer. He is an accomplished poet and has written three collections of poetry including: Saad Lá Tah Hozhóon (2019), which is a reprint of Jim’s trilingual collection of poetry titled Duchas Taa Koo Diné: a trilingual poetry collection in Navajo, Irish, and English (1998); Saad (1995); and Áhí Ni’Nikisheegiizh (1989). Jim continues to reside in his home community of Rock Point and he currently works at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.
Boderra Joe is Bit’ahnii born for Tó’áhani. She is from Twin Lakes, New Mexico. Joe holds a B.F.A. in creative writing and an M.F.A. in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She currently serves as the Admissions/Outreach Assistant for the New Mexico School for the Arts High School in Santa Fe. She also teaches creative writing workshops for the Creative Writing & Literature Department. Joe previously worked as a freelance reporter for Gallup Sun Publishing newspaper in Gallup, New Mexico and at LAM Corporation, LLC in marketing. In her free time, she does freelance photography, mainly capturing landscape and family as they walk alongside her poetry of work. One day, she hopes to publish a book.
Lawrence Lenhart is the author of The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage (Outpost 19). His prose appears in publications like the Alaska Quarterly Review, Fourth Genre, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Passages North, Prairie Schooner, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He teaches fiction and creative nonfiction at Northern Arizona University. Lenhart is an editor at DIAGRAM and a frequent writer for The Rumpus and Brazos Bookstore. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona.
Manny Loley is ‘Áshįįhi born for Tó Baazhní’ázhí; his maternal grandparents are the Tódích’íi’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii. Loley is from Casamero Lake, New Mexico and serves as an Adjunct Faculty in the School of Arts & Humanities at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico. He holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts and will be entering the Ph.D. in english and literary arts at the University of Denver in fall 2019. Loley is a founding member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective, co-founder and co-director of the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute, chair of the advisory board to the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate, and contributing fiction editor for Cloudthroat, an online literary publication. His work has appeared in the literary magazine HIKA, as part of Pollentongue: An Indigenous Poetry Salon and Reading, and is forthcoming in RED INK, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Diné Reader: an Anthology of Navajo Literature. In addition to a book of poems, Loley is at work on a novel titled They Collect Rain in Their Palms.
Amber McCrary is Kin Łichíi’nii born for Naakaii Dine’é; her maternal grandparents are the ‘Áshįįhi and her paternal grandparents are the Ta’neeszahnii. She is from Shonto, Arizona. McCrary is a Diné poet, zinester, and feminist. She is a current M.F.A. candidate in the creative writing program at Mills College in Oakland, California. Her writing celebrates land, love, and living.
Tyler Mitchell is Tódích’íi’nii born for Honágháahnii; his maternal grandparents are the Mą’íí Deeshgíízhíníí and his paternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii. He is from Tsaile, Arizona. Mitchell received his B.A. in English from Northern Arizona University and he is a member of the Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective. He serves as the Executive Editor for Salina Bookshelf in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is an independent publishing company that specializes in Navajo and Hopi literature.
David Pérez is a writer, editor, actor, playwright, radio show host, and author of two memoirs: WOW! (11B Press, 2011) and WOW! 2 (Nighthawk Press, 2016). He has been selected as “One of the Top Ten Latino Authors to Watch and Read” by latinostories.com and the ebook edition of WOW! won a Gold Medal for multicultural non-fiction in the Global Ebook Awards. Pérez has edited numerous award-winning memoirs and also teaches workshops on the Art of Reading Your Work Aloud. He lives in Taos, New Mexico.
Jake Skeets is Tsi’naajínii born for Tábąąhá; his maternal grandparents are the Táchii’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Tódík’ózhí. Skeets is from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. He holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets is a winner of the 2018 Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Skeets edits an online publication called Cloudthroat and organizes a poetry salon and reading series called Pollentongue, based in the Southwest. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective and currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona. He is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, forthcoming in September 2019.
Roanna Shebala is Tsénjíkíní born for Deeshchíí’nii; her maternal grandparents are the Tótsohnii and her paternal grandparents are the Naasht’ézhi Dine’é. She is from Fort Defiance, Arizona. Shebala earned her B.S. in theater at Northern Arizona University and is a current M.F.A. in creative writing student at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is a spoken word artist who has been featured on four National Poetry Slam teams, five-time representative on the Women of the World Poetry Slam team, and a two-time representative for the Individual of the World Poetry Slam. Her work has been featured in Button Poetry, Indian Country Today, in various zines, and magazines such as Annick Press, Red Ink, Wicked Banshee Press, and Suspect Press. Shebala has performed her spoken word poetry at the Lincoln Center for the Out of Doors Project and nationally. She credits her father for gifting her with storytelling; her work combines story, poetry, and performance. She is also a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective.
Dr. Laura Tohe is Tsénahabiłnii born for the Tódich’inii. She grew up at the base of the Chuska Mountains in Crystal, New Mexico. Dr. Tohe earned her B.A. from the University of New Mexico and her M.A. and Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Dr. Tohe is the author of Making Friends with Water; No Parole Today (named Poetry Book of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers); Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community, co-edited with Heid Erdrich; Tseyí Deep in the Rock, in collaboration with photographer, Stephen Strom (received the Arizona Book Association’s Glyph Award for Best Poetry and Best Book); and Code Talker Stories. The Phoenix Symphony commissioned her to write the libretto for “Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio,” which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s 60th anniversary. A compact disc recording of “Enemy Slayer” is on the Naxos classical music label. It received rave reviews by the Arizona Republic and was called “a triumph” by Opera Today. Her other awards include the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award by the Arizona Humanities. Dr. Tohe is professor emeritus for Arizona State University and she is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate.
Daniel Vandever is Dághaałchíí’ Dine’é born for Kinyaa’áanii; his maternal grandparents are the Dághaałchíí’ Dine’é and his paternal grandparents clan is the Táchii’nii. He is from Haystack, New Mexico at the base of Tsoodził. Vandever is the author and illustrator of “Fall in Line, Holden!” (Salina Bookshelf Press), a children’s book detailing a young Navajo boy’s day at a boarding school. Vandever serves as Director of Communications for Navajo Technical University, where he handles strategic communication efforts for marketing, advertising, and public relations. He holds an M.A. in community and regional planning from the University of New Mexico and a B.A. from the University of Missouri. He volunteers for the Navajo Weaver’s Association, providing his marketing expertise to the internationally known Rug Auction in Crownpoint, New Mexico.