“Pain of Speaking”: Language and Environmental (In)justice in Ofelia Zepeda’s Where Clouds Are Formed


  • Miroslav Černý University of Ostrava




Ofelia Zepeda, poetry, ecocriticism, language, environmental (in)justice


Ofelia Zepeda, an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation (formerly Papago), is one of the most acknowledged Native American poets of her generation. Zepeda’s creative writing can be characterized as eco-poetry, for it is deeply connected with the natural environment of the Tohono O’odham traditional tribal territory in the Sonoran Desert of the American Southwest. The present paper focuses on the motif of language and speech as it is presented in Zepeda’s latest collection of verses Where Clouds Are Formed (2008). The paper maps the diverse forms in the work and in studies of individual poems (some of which are bilingual: English and Tohono O’odham), the significance of the traditional language within the context of so-called environmental (in)justice is explored.

Author Biography

Miroslav Černý, University of Ostrava

Miroslav Černý is Associate Professor at the Department of English and American Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Ostrava, Czech Republic, where he teaches both linguistic and literary courses. His research concentrates on Native American history, literature and culture. He is also an established translator, with five books to his credit so far.


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How to Cite

Černý, M. (2023). “Pain of Speaking”: Language and Environmental (In)justice in Ofelia Zepeda’s Where Clouds Are Formed. American & British Studies Annual, 16, 23–33. https://doi.org/10.46585/absa.2023.16.2495