In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets, together with other members of the Poetry Coalition of the Academy of American Poets, will devote Spring 2021 poetry programming to exploring the theme:

“It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.: Poetry & Environmental Justice.”

As a part of our focus on environmental justice, we would like to highlight the work of Indigenous youth poets, ages 16-21. If you are a Native poet in this age group, we invite you to share an original poem focusing on the theme “It is burning./ It is dreaming./ It is waking up.: Poetry & Environmental Justice” in a short video. Be creative with the visual elements of the video. You might show us the places important to your poem—the beauty of Native spaces and beings as well as the challenges to our Indigenous environments. Or perhaps your poem highlights urban spaces, people, laws, dance, etc. See prompt below for more details.

Submit a 2 to 4 minute poetry video along with the text of your poem and a 50-100 word bio. If you are under the age of 18, please include the permission form below with the signature of your parent or guardian. The submission deadline is April 30, 2021. Up to eight videos will be chosen to be included in a virtual public program, and the poets will receive $100 each. All submissions will be considered for a series of youth poet spotlights on the In-Na-Po webpage.

The Prompt:
Engage through a video poem (2 to 4 minutes long) with the specifics of environmental justice in your community or region. Environmental justice broadly refers to 1) fair access by all to resources necessary for health, and 2) the meaningful involvement of all people in the making and implementation of laws and policies dealing with our ecosystem. What does this mean to you, your tribal community, or the environments in which you live, work, or attend school? It may involve things like:

  • access to healthy food, clean air, and clean water
  • protecting wild rice from contamination and genetic modification
  • the targeting of particular areas as national sacrifice zones for mineral extraction or waste storage
  • using Traditional Indigenous Knowledge as the basis for decisions involving everything from wildlife protections to alternative energy
  • tribal languages as the basis for an-other perspective on environmental concerns
  • restoring balance in damaged urban or natural areas
  • creating oases of community gardens, art environments, teaching lodges, etc.

Tips on recording:

  • Use a tripod or place the camera/phone on a steady surface parallel to the ground
  • Make sure the camera is horizontal and not vertical—the image should be wider than tall
  • Take moment to listen to the space—if there is unwanted background noise, echo or reverb, choose a new filming spot that is quiet.
  • Check the focus. Make sure your lens is clean and your image is sharp
  • If panning an environment, make certain you hold the camera steady and move slowly enough for your viewer to take in the image.
  • Ensure that you have enough light. A natural, indirect light is best when filming yourself.
  • When you press record, wait for three or four seconds before beginning.
  • Remember to introduce yourself giving your name, tribal nation, and any other details you would like about your place, etc.
  • Give the title of the poem before you perform it.
  • Project—you don’t have to shout, but speak clearly and with adequate volume.
  • When you finish recording, look into the camera, say your parting words, count to three in your head, and then press to stop recording.
  • Have fun. The audience will feel your energy.

You are our future Indigenous environmental leaders. We welcome your voices and look forward to receiving your poetry video submission.


Title your submission as “YOURLASTNAME.envirojustice”
The button below will take you to the submission form. If you are under 18, remember to include your parent/guardian’s permission.

This programming is supported by the Academy of American Poets with funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. #EnvironmentalJustice #PoetryCoalition