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Summer Tales 2021

Summer Tales is a virtual community for students taking classes remotely. It promises short mental breaks from coursework through reading and social interaction, two fool-proof methods of distraction.

Why Should You Read This Poem?

Natalie Díaz’s poem will resonate with anyone who has worried about losing a loved one to drug addiction.

The Poem: My Brother at 3 A.M., by Natalie Díaz


"The sky wasn’t black or blue but the dying green of night.
Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.
My brother pointed to the corner house.
His lips flickered with sores."

Excerpt from My Brother at 3 A.M., by Natalie Díaz  



Natalie Díaz’s pantoum uses repeating lines to tell a miniature story about a hallucinating son and a distraught mother. The two characters inhabit different worlds while they share the same sense of mounting desperation over their failure to connect. As Díaz depicts the scene, the son’s delusion that the Devil is after him transforms from a drug-induced psychosis to a frighteningly apt metaphor for the way his addicted state appears to his family.

Talking Points - Reflection Pool

  1. What’s the effect of Díaz’s repetition of lines? Why might she choose a form that has repeating lines for this poem? Is it similar to or different from the effect that Trethewey achieves through repetition?
  2. Notice how lines change slightly where they repeat. Why might those lines have changed? Do they mean something different?

About the Author

Natalie Díaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2012. She is 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a US Artists Ford Fellowship.  Díaz teaches at Arizona State University. [excerpted from Natalie G. Díaz home page]

Just in: She is the 2021 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Postcolonial Love Poem.

Natalie Díaz at Rutgers Libraries

A Celebration of Natalie Diaz


Poetry reading starts at 8:29.

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