JOY HARJO – first-ever Native U.S. Poet Laureate @ Earth Day Celebration
Saturday, April 18, 2020 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pmFREE
In honor of Earth Day and together with her jazz band, America’s first-ever Native Poet Laureate will explore the theme of environmental justice through jazz music and poetry. Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019. An accomplished musician, she has released a string of records, nine books of poetry, several plays and children’s books, and a memoir (the superb Crazy Brave). Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, a PEN USA Literary Award, Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund Writers’ Award, a Rasmuson US Artist Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Harjo is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is a Tulsa Artist Fellow.
“Resplendent and reverberating… Harjo’s bracing political perspective is matched by timeless wisdom… In clarion, incantatory poems that recalibrate the heart and mind, Harjo conveys both the endless ripples of loss and the brightening beauty and hope of the sunrise.” —Booklist
In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo’s latest book of poetry, she finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest—and most complicated—poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.