Deborah Miranda


I'm a mixedblood woman; Alfred Edward Robles Miranda, my father, is Esselen and Chumash (Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and Monterey, California), my mother, Madgel Eleanor (Yeoman) Miranda, is of French and Jewish ancestry. My tribal experience emerges out of the missionized histories of southern California coastal Indians and our subsequent resilience and exhilarating resurgence. I was born at UCLA hospital, raised in and around L.A. until age 5, when my mother moved to Washington State. My father rejoined us 8 years later. Together, the three of us have worked to re-connect and help re-establish the tribal ties always known and felt. My mother's genealogical expertise, my father's rich memories of growing up as the last generation to experience a physically cohesive tribal unit (his mother's Chumash family compound in Santa Barbara), and my own hunger for and pleasure in storytelling have been a part of a reunion of many long-lost family and tribal members. The Esselen Nation is currently petitioning for recognition, and we are proud and grateful to be part of that effort. My mother passed on in November 2001, but her genealogical work and her generous heart live on as part of our futures.

I feel that my life mirrors the history of my tribes in many ways: begun in beauty, subjected to trauma and upheaval, and now a slow re-creation of the web of connections that make the world both possible and a celebration. I have two children, Miranda and Danny. I'm grateful to share life with my partner Margo Solod, poet, cook, and hunter/gatherer from Virginia. Starting academia late in life, I earned my Ph.D. in English at age 40 from the University of Washington in 2001, taught at Pacific Lutheran University for three years, and am currently Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where I teach Creative Writing (poetry), Native American Literatures, Women's Literature, Poetry as Literature, and composition.

The world's peoples, and the earth herself, are in a tough place as I write these words. As a mixedblood who cherishes both sides of her family, it is impossible for me to engage (any longer) in the self-hatred that essentializing the "races" feeds off. In order to love ourselves, Natives must love our Indianness; but in order to love this earth as human beings, we must also love all souls who love life, the creative, and the erotic forces of being alive. We are all indigenous to this place; that is the knowledge that I feel I have learned the hard way. Writing is an expression of this knowledge, and a way of communicating this voice. It is how I can best honor this world, the planet -- truly, our Mother.

Deborah's work has been published in the Bellingham Review, Bellowing Ark, California Quarterly, Calyx, Callaloo, Cimarron Review, News From Native California, Poets On, Raven Chronicles, Sojurner, Weber Studies Journal, West Wind Review, and Wilderness.

Writing available online

The Zen of La Llorona
A Trick of Grace
Highway 126
Burning the Baskets
Stories I Tell My Daughter
I Am Not a Witness
Indian Cartography
Sorrow as a Woman, read by Deborah at Bumbershoot 2001 in Seattle [mp3]
Stories I Tell My Daughter, read by Deborah at Bumbershoot 2001 in Seattle [mp3]
Two Poems: Deer and Petroglyphs
"Lunatic or Lover/Madman or Shaman: the Role of the Poet in Contemporary Culture(s)" [from the Raven Chronicles website]
Work to Do [from the Raven Chronicles website]
Correspondence [Available only if you or your institution has a subscription to Project Muse.]


The Zen of La Llorona was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in 2005.

In 2001 Deborah received the Connie Leach Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in achieving a Doctoral Degree from the Seattle Indian Services Commission. In 2000, she was named Writer of the Year for Poetry for her book, Indian Cartography, by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers. She also received a Hedgebrook Writing Cottages Invitational Residency in that year.

Deborah received the Diane Decorah Award for Poetry in 1997 from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.

In 1995, she was the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference Prizewinner in poetry.

She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 1994.

In 1993, she won the 49th Parallel Poetry Prize and obtained a Tacoma Arts Commission Grant to plan and carry out a day long arts workshop for mothers.

Books by Deborah Miranda or containing her work       icon

The Zen of La Llorona, Salt Pub.
Deer, a chapbook, available directly from Deborah for $7, shipping and handling included.
Order this chapbook
Indian Cartography, Greenfield Review Press.
Cover Art by Kathleen Smith (Dry Creek Pomo/Bodega Miwok)
Histories of the world.(Review), Janet McAdams, an article from: The Women's Review of Books

Anthologies       icon

Red Ink: Love and Erotica, University of Arizona American Indian Studies Program.
A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women's Poetry,
Margarita Donnelly, Beverly McFarland, Micki Reaman (Editora), Calyx Books.
The Dirt Is Red Here: Art & Poetry from Contemporary Native California,
Margaret Dubin (Editor), Heyday Books, 2002.
This Bridge We Call Home: 20 Years After This Bridge Called My Back,
Gloria Anzaldua & AnaLouise Keating (Editors), Routledge.
Through the Eye of the Deer, Carolyn Dunn & Carol Zitzer-Comfort (Editors),
Aunt Lute Books, 1999.
Women: Images and Realities - A Multicultural Anthology,
Nancy Schniedewind, Amy Kesselman & Lily D. McNair (Editors), Mayfield Pub., 1999.
the Indian Summer issue of phati'tude
Durable Breath : Contemporary Native American Poetry, John E. Smelcer, D. L. Birchfield
(Editors), Salmon Run Pub.

Journal Articles & Book Reviews

"What's Wrong with a Little Fantasy? Storytelling from the (still) Ivory Tower"
in American Indian Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 1&2, ed. by Devon A. Mihesuah .
"Dildos, Hummingbirds and Driving Her Crazy: Searching for American Indian Women's Love Poetry and Erotics."
Frontiers. Edited by Ines Hernandez-Avila. [Available only if you or your institution has a subscription to Project Muse.]
"Dildos, Hummingbirds and Driving Her Crazy: Searching for American Indian Women's Love Poetry and Erotics."
in Reading Native Women: Critical/Creative Representations, edited by Ines Hernandez-Avila. Altamira Press. (In Press)
"A String of Textbooks: Artifacts of Composition Pedagogy in Indian Boarding Schools."
The Journal of Teaching Writing. Vol. 16.2, Fall 2000.
"I Don't Speak the Language that has the Sentences: An Interview with Paula Gunn Allen"
in Sojourner: The Women's Forum. February 1999, Vol. 24, No. 2.
"A Strong Woman Pursuing Her God: Linda Hogan's Power"
in Sojourner: The Women's Forum. November 2000, Vol. 26, No. 3.
Fiction Posing as Truth: A Critical Review of Ann Rinaldi's My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl,
with Marlene Atleo, Naomi Caldwell, Barbara Landis, Jean Mendoza, LaVera Rose, Beverly Slapin, and Cynthia Smith. Also published in Re-thinking Schools: An Urban Education Journal (Summer 1999); also published in Multicultural Review (September 1999, Vol. 8, No. 3)
Review of Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays: A Tribal Voice
by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn in Sojourner: The Women's Forum. January 1997, Vol. 22, No. 5.
Review of Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit
by Leslie Marmon Silko in Sojourner: The Women's Forum. November 1996, Vol. 22, No. 93.

Interviews/Reviews and Autobiographical Essays       icon

'Bad Girls'/'Good Girls' : Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties,
Donna Perry, Nan Bauer Maglin (Editors), Rutgers University Press. (Hardcover).

In Association with

This is an "official" site in that this page was constructed with the assistance and active collaboration of the poet, Deborah Miranda. The website "author" is Karen M. Strom

© 1997 - 2006 Deborah Miranda and Karen Strom.

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