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Exploring Personal and Collective Loss in Poetry and Fiction: Casandra Lopez Receives Artist Trust Award 

Dec 13, 2018

I’m interested in characters that are complex, that sometimes do bad things, but still there is all kinds of love there.

Casandra Lopez

This week, the Washington nonprofit, Artist Trust, announced Casandra Lopez, SAR’s 2013 Indigenous Writer-in-Residence, as the recipient of the 2018 James W. Ray Venture Project award. Given to two individuals annually, the award honors creatives who the Trust believes demonstrate exceptional originality. Read the full press release here.

Lopez (Cahuilla/Tongva/Luiseño/Chicana) blends explorations of loss, grief, and trauma in her works of fiction and poetry. In 2010, Lopez lost her brother to gun violence; while at SAR she developed work pulling from this loss and her connections to the community that have developed out of the experience.

Casandra Lopez, 2013 SAR Indigenous Writer-in-Residence, photograph by Jason S. Ordaz

Much of this work has become part of her current publications: Where the Bullet Breaks, (University of Arkansas at Little Rock, 2014) and Brother Bullet (University of Arizona Press, forthcoming). Today, Lopez continues to craft her own work while she also teaches on the Lummi reservation at Northwest Indian College.  

For nearly a decade, SAR’s Indigenous Writer-in-Residence program has supported authors who explore personal memoirs, works of fiction, and other creative endeavors. The program, generously supported by the Lannan Foundation, provides writers-in-residence with the time and space needed to immerse themselves in the process of creating new narratives

As part of Lopez’s residency with SAR, she organized a writer workshop with the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) creative writing department director, Evelina Zuni Lucero. The event explored where stories come from and how the creative process can be driven by personal inquiry and discovery. The two authors shared reflections on the workshop and writing process in a public forum in 2013. As Lucero notes about the development of stories, “They don’t just fall down on the page by some miracle.” Hear Casandra Lopez read from her work-in-process at SAR and discuss the story process with Evelina Zuni Lucero:

SAR hosts one Indigenous Writer-in-Residence annually. Read more about the program here. 

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