Jessica Tyner Mehta

Jessica Tyner Mehta

In Savage, her fourth collection of poetry, Jessica Tyner Mehta uses the prison love letters between her mother and father as a springboard for examining self-identity and how history shapes us. Mehta, a member of the Cherokee Nation from Oregon, is a Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Fellow-in-Residence. She presents and reads from Savage on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at WISC headquarters, the Acequia Madre House (614 Acequia Madre, 505-983-6538). The event is free, but it is necessary to register; go to

Mehta is the author of six books, including the just-released poetry collection Secret-Telling Bones (The Operating System). She is also a yoga instructor who ghostwrites erotic fiction. In her poem “Nvda Diniyoli (Children of the Sun),” she tackles her complex selfhood as “the first/on my mother’s side to go to college,/the first in my father’s generation/to speak English with not a whisper/of Cherokee, though he’d forgotten/all but the easies — usdi:/small, alasgisda: dance, ale ayv galieliga:/I am happy. They beat the language out/in Indian boarding schools alongside other bad habits/like lying and pride.”

The WISC residency program offers up to four-week fellowships for artists, writers, scholars, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the arts, sciences, cultural preservation, business, and philanthropy. Fellows live and work in the Acequia Madre House, inspired by the three generations of women who built and lived in the house before them, including author and ethnobotanist Leonora Scott Muse Curtin, who wrote Healing Herbs of the Upper Río Grande.

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