Natachee Momaday Gray considers her new collection of poems, Silver Box, a “gathering” rather than something she would call a book. In fact, the pieces in this unpublished work are less what she’d refer to as poetry and more an ephemeral assortment of recent thoughts and discoveries.
“Pretty much all of my work is autobiographical. I write from experience,” said the 24-year-old, who is the daughter of artist and musician Darren Vigil Gray and documentary filmmaker Jill Momaday Gray. Her grandfather is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday. “A lot of my poems sort of manifest in taking from certain histories, but it’s very dreamlike in how that history pertains to me.”
Silver Box is sensual and spiritual, emphasizing sex and the body, and offering up images of worshipful Catholicism, although Gray does not identify as Christian. “I come from a very traditional Native American family. My mother is Kiowa, and my father is Jicarilla Apache,” she said. “Growing up, I was always fascinated with that really rooted sense of tradition and spirituality.”
Gray said that what is pleasurable to her as a writer and a reader are personal accounts of physical sensation, and that the words she uses are meant to be interpreted broadly and symbolically.
“The tin square is opening to heaven,” she writes in the title piece, which continues:
Place for worship.
Dry heave, splinter, caress.
Blood in the sheets.
Rinds of bright red melon —
And why are you so far away from me now?
Natachee Momaday Gray reads her work, with musical accompaniment by Kyle Perkins, at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18, at Teatro Paraguas (3205 Calle Marie). Admission is free. For more information, call 505-424-1601 or go to teatroparaguas.org.