2021 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
by Natalie Diaz
Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz's brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages — bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers — be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: "Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden." In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.
Diaz defies the conditions from which she writes, a nation whose creation predicated the diminishment and ultimate erasure of bodies like hers and the people she loves: "I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible." Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope — in it, a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.
The Pulitzer Prize has been awarded by Columbia University each spring since 1917. The awards are chosen by a board of jurors for Journalism, Letters, Music and Drama. The awards for Letters include Nonfiction, Poetry, Biography or Autobiography, History, and Fiction.