November 29, 2020

Joy Harjo Appointed to Third Term as U.S. Poet Laureate

From the Library of Congress:

Joy Harjo (Photo Source: Library of Congress)

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced the appointment of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to a third term, making Harjo the second laureate to receive this extension since terms for the position were established in 1943.

Harjo’s third term, to begin in September 2021, will offer her an opportunity to complete projects and programs whose timelines continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including her signature project being launched today in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.

“Throughout the pandemic, Joy Harjo has shown how poetry can help steady us and nurture us. I am thankful she is willing to continue this work on behalf of the country,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “A third term will give Joy the opportunity to develop and extend her signature project.”

For her third term, Harjo will focus on her signature project, “Living Nations, Living Words,” just launched at loc.gov/programs/poetry-and-literature/poet-laureate/poet-laureate-projects/living-nations-living-words/. This digital project features an interactive ArcGIS Story Map, developed with the Library’s Geography and Map Division, which maps 47 contemporary Native American poets across the country — including Joy Harjo, Louise Erdrich, Natalie Diaz, Ray Young Bear, Craig Santos Perez, Sherwin Bitsui and Layli Long Soldier.

The map connects to a new online audio collection developed by Harjo and housed in the Library’s American Folklife Center, which features the participating poets reading and discussing an original poem. Each chose their poems based on the theme of place and displacement, and with four focal points in mind: visibility, persistence, resistance and acknowledgment.

“This has been a challenging year for the country, for our earth. Poetry has provided doorways for joy, grief and understanding in the midst of turmoil and pandemic,” Harjo said. “I welcome the opportunity of a third term to activate my project and visit communities to share Native poetry. The story of America begins with Native presence, thoughts and words. Poetry is made of word threads that weave and connect us.”

During her laureateship, which began June 19, 2019, Harjo opened her term as the nation’s first Native American poet laureate with a poetry reading and concert in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium accompanied by a three-piece band. Her first-term closing event was canceled after the pandemic forced the closure of the Library’s public buildings, and she started her second term on Sept. 1.

Harjo has adapted to the virtual world by participating in programs such as the 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival — in a video recorded especially for the event and by appearing in the festival’s accompanying broadcast special on PBS — as well as in “The Poetry of Home,” a virtual series developed with The Washington Post.

Joy Harjo Bio

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, and is the author of nine books of poetry, including her most recent collection, “An American Sunrise” (W.W. Norton), as well as “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings”; “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky,” which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and “In Mad Love and War” (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Harjo has also written a memoir, “Crazy Brave,” which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction, as well as a children’s book, “The Good Luck Cat,” and a young adult book, “For a Girl Becoming.”

Harjo has also recently released her co-edited anthology, “When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry” (Norton).

Direct to Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate: A Resource Guide

Direct to Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Website

See Also: Joy Harjo Presentation at 2020 National Book Festival
(September 26, 2020)

See Also: National Book Festival Preview: Joy Harjo and Rita Dove
(September 22, 2020)

See Also: A Larger Context that Reveals Meaning: An Interview with Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (via LC/From the Catbird Seat)

See Also: Interview with Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (via LC)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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