What are the major themes that arise in Simon Ortiz poetry?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes which exist in the poetry of Simon Ortiz are somewhat polar in nature. At some points, his poetry shows the hope and optimism one needs to succeed in life. On the other hand, some of his words are laden with grief and loss.

For example, in his poem "Blind Curse," Ortiz seems to recognize that some things in life simply cannot be defined (or found to possess any optimism):

You just might be significant
but you might not be anything.

On the other hand, poems like "Culture and the Universe," Ortiz shows readers that hope does exist when we (as mankind) understand that there are things greater than us which can be our saving grace:

It’s not humankind after all
nor is it culture
that limits us.
It is the vastness
we do not enter.
It is the stars
we do not let own us.
One can see in this poem that nature plays a very important role in the life of Ortiz (given his Native American heritage). Therefore, another theme typical of Ortiz's poetry is the power of nature.

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