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Layli Long Soldier earned a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA with honours from Bard College. She is the author of the chapbook Chromosomory (2010) and the full-length collection Whereas (2017), which was a finalist for the National Book Awards. She has been a contributing editor to Drunken Boat and is poetry editor at Kore Press; in 2012, her participatory installation, Whereas We Respond, was featured on the Pine Ridge Reservation. In 2015, Long Soldier was awarded a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry. A citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, Long Soldier lives in Tsaile, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation, with her husband and daughter. She is an adjunct faculty member at Diné College.

Whereas

Graywolf Press
2018 Shortlist
United States

Judges’ Citation

Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas repurposes congressional doublespeak in order to lay bare the murderous hypocrisy lurking behind the official language of the state.

Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas repurposes congressional doublespeak in order to lay bare the murderous hypocrisy lurking behind the official language of the state. Deftly deploying a variety of techniques and idioms, Long Soldier has crafted an intricate and urgent counter-history, a work of elegy, outrage and profound generosity that explores what possibilities of interconnection in the present might be enabled by a genuine reckoning with the past. “I am a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe,” Long Soldier writes in the introduction to the title poem, “meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation — and in this dual citizenship, I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.