Natalie Diaz and Mary Jean Chan online at Manchester Literature Festival

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Natalie Diaz
Poet Natalie Diaz.

Natalie Diaz NEW COMMISSION Hosted by Mary Jean Chan, online, 22–29 April 2021, free entry - Find Out More

For the very first time, poet Natalie Diaz presents Radixes and Formations, a brand-new commission written especially for Manchester Literature Festival, talking about the work to Costa Book Award for Poetry winner Mary Jean Chan.

After performing her new poems for the first time in this special MLF event as part of the festival’s spring programme, Natalie will be talking about them to fellow poet Mary Jean Chan.

Radixes and Formations is a series of poetic sensualities exploring the words ‘origin’, ‘migration’, ‘freedom’ and ‘love’ and creating linguistic maps of these words in both English and Mojave, diving deep into their roots and the ways in which they echo in physical connection. Natalie is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community, identifying as Akimel O’odham, born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado river.

Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was An Aztec, won an American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, came out with Faber & Faber last year and explores body and land as sites of desire and longing, but also pain and erasure. It was shortlisted for the National Book Award and the Forward Prize in Poetry. A deeply lyrical poet, ‘Natalie Diaz is a poet who calls out to us in so many ways, who reaches out to embrace her lover, her people, and her country.’ She has received fellowships from The MacArthur Foundation, the Lannan Literary Foundation, the Native Arts Council Foundation and Princeton University, and was recently appointed to Academy of American Poets.

This is one of a series of new Manchester Literature Festival commissions supported by an award from the DCMS Culture Recovery Fund and presented in partnership with the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester. After performing her new poems for the first time in this special MLF event as part of the festival’s spring programme (which also features poet Roger Robinson talking to Malika Booker, Caleb Femi talking about his own commission with Vanessa Kisuule, and author Kazuo Ishiguro chatting with Jackie Kay), Natalie will be talking about them to fellow poet Mary Jean Chan, author of Faber-published Flèche, which also saw her receive an Eric Gregory Award in 2019 for a collection by poets under the age of 30.

This pre-recorded online MLF event will be captioned, and broadcast at 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 April. It will then be available to watch for another seven days (until 27 April).

Postcolonial Love Poem cover
Postcolonial Love Poem cover

Tickets are available on a Pay What You Can £6 / £12 / £20 basis; free tickets are available for those who need them.

Natalie Diaz NEW COMMISSION Hosted by Mary Jean Chan, online

22–29 April 2021
Free entry