Tacey Atsitty

Tacey Atsitty

"Passion, service, mountain, life, love, peace, achievement”

College: Arts and Sciences
Degree Program: Creative Writing
Degree: Doctorate

Award: McKnight Doctoral Fellowship (2023)

Why FSU?

I chose to attend FSU because the Department of English has one of the top doctoral programs in the nation for Creative Writing, it was definitely a place I wanted to pursue my degree. Furthermore, the professors are top poets and entirely supportive. I also appreciated the fellowships available to graduate students and the experience that comes with teaching a variety of courses.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I was working at a non-academic job for several years before being admitted to the Ph.D. program at FSU, and although I enjoyed my work, I missed teaching and talking about literature. Also, it has been a goal of mine for most of my life, to attain a doctorate. I have always wanted to bring a different perspective to academia.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

There are not a lot of Navajos in academia, and so much of the work and research that needs to be done lies on the shoulders of just a few of us who come from the tribe. My particular research includes learning and sharing the Creation stories of the Dine people and employing ways we can learn from them as we move forward as a people and a nation.

Native American Background and Upbringing

My name is She Who is Like Old Women. I am Sleep Rock People, born for the Tangle People. My maternal grandfather is Water Edge People, and my paternal grandfather is Yucca Fruit Strung-Out-In-A-Line People. This is how I am a Navajo woman, and I’m originally from Cove, Arizona in the Navajo Nation, near the Four Corners. This is a normal introduction for Diné people because it tells you who I am (characteristics and lineage) and where I come from (location in the Navajo Nation). The clan system helps us know our kinship to others, and in some cases helps avoid romantic relationships with those who are our relatives. My tribe has the largest land mass in the United States, and the second largest population.

Importance of Native American Background in the Pursuit of Graduate Degree

My heritage is important to me and works its way into my studies as a doctoral candidate because we have so much to learn from our Creation Stories. At present, I’m writing a bestiary of Navajo monsters; they were/are characters, who in our stories, went/go around killing Diné. I’m interested in their origins and narratives and coming to a sense of accountability with their genesis.

Accomplishments during graduate career

McKnight Doctoral Fellowship 2023, Dean’s Award for Doctoral Excellence, English Department, Florida State University 2023-26, Wisconsin Brittingham Prize for Poetry Winner 2023, Diversity Fund Award, Florida State University 2023, Louis Owens Award, Graduate Student Travel Award 2022, Indigenous Nations Poets Inaugural Fellowship 2022, FSU Creative Writing Fellowship 2020, Southeast Review 2021–22 Regional Advisor/Contributing Editor, "The Diné Reader: A Reading and Discussion about the Making of an Anthology of Navajo Literature", Indigenous Nations Poets Retreat, Madison Building, Mumford Room, 2022 Reading performance with Larry Mitchell, Word of South, Tallahassee, FL, 2022 Reading and Conversation with Heid Erdrich, Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts "A Shared Body," Tallahassee, FL, 2021 Virtual Reading. The Dine Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature. San Juan College, "Art in the Time of COVID-19" Northwest New Mexico Arts Council and San Juan College.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

Do it! Make sure it's something you love though because it's challenging and you'll want to make sure it's worth it.

Career aspirations

I love writing poetry and teaching literature. Any job involving these two things would be a dream.