“A poignant collection of stories and poems celebrating the joys and sorrows of everyday life… Deeply entrenched in the author’s Navajo heritage, these stories and poems speak to women of all cultures.” –Library Journal
“A totally engrossing narrative. Her writing is honest and straightforward, and yet so beautiful, so deep, so moving.” –Books of the Southwest
“These wise and perceptive ‘observations and experiences,’ as she calls them, cover a broad range of subjects: language and life and death, family and love and respect, and Navajo ways of finding beauty and harmony and even joy in a world that has too much misfortune in it.”–Bloomsbury Review, a 1997 Editor’s Choice
“Filled with rich natural images, her writing recites meaningful events that can guide a reader feeling lost in our confusing, hi-tech world. . . . A memorable book!” –Book Talk
Wrapped in blankets and looking at the stars, a young Navajo girl listened long ago to stories that would guide her for the rest of her life. “Such summer evenings were filled with quiet voices, dogs barking far away, the fire crackling, and often we could hear the faint drums and songs of a ceremony somewhere in the distance,” writes Luci Tapahonso in this compelling collection. Blue Horses Rush In takes its title from a poem about the birth of her granddaughter Chamisa, whose heart “pounded quickly and we recognized / the sound of horses running: / the thundering of hooves on the desert floor.” Through such personal insights, this collection follows the cycle of a woman’s life and underlines what it means to be Navajo in the late twentieth century. The book marks a major accomplishment in American literature for its successful blending of Navajo cultural values and forms with the English language, while at the same time retaining the Navajo character. Here, Luci Tapahonso walks slowly through an ancient Hohokam village, recalling stories passed down from generation to generation. Later in the book, she may tell a funny story about a friend, then, within a few pages, describe family rituals like roasting green chiles or baking bread in an outside oven. Throughout, Tapahonso shares with readers her belief in the power of pollen and prayer feathers and sacred songs.
Many of these stories were originally told in Navajo, taking no longer than ten minutes in the telling. “Yet, in recreating them, it is necessary to describe the land, the sky, the light, and other details of time and place,” writes Tapahonso. “In this way, I attempt to create and convey the setting for the oral text. In writing, I revisit the place or places concerned and try to bring the reader to them, thereby enabling myself and other Navajos to sojourn mentally and emotionally in our home, Dinétah.”
Luci Tapahonso (Diné (Navajo)) is Professor Emerita of English Literature at the University of New Mexico and served as the inaugural Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation. She is a recipient of a 2018 Native Arts and Culture Foundation Artist Fellowship. She is the author of three children’s books and six books of poetry including A Radiant Curve. She served as a judge for Poetry Out Loud, the New Mexico High School Poetry Competition, and was selected as “2016 Best of the City—Our City and State’s Prolific Authors,” by Albuquerque the Magazine. Professor Tapahonso has delivered keynote addresses at several conferences and institutions including Harvard University, Gallup Central High School, Kenyon College, Institute of American Indian Arts, the Tbisili International Literature Festival in the Republic of Georgia, and “Creativity Week” at the University of New Zealand at Auckland and Wellington. She recently completed a script for an exhibition called “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art” for the American Heritage Gallery at Walt Disney World’s Epcot and is completing the manuscript for her next book. Tapahonso lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband, Dr. Robert Martin, who is president of the Institute of American Indian Arts.