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U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to give free Emory University reading online

Joy Harjo, current U.S. poet laureate and the first Native American to hold the position, will give a free online reading for Emory University and the public on Saturday, March 20, at 4 p.m. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Current U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, the first Native American to hold the position, will read her poems at an event hosted by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library on Saturday, March 20, at 4 p.m.

Part of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series, this normally large in-person event will be held online due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Attendees are asked to register here to receive a viewing link prior to the event, which is open to the public at no charge.

Harjo became the 23rd poet laureate of the United States in 2019 and was recently appointed by the Library of Congress to a rare third term, to begin in September 2021. She is an internationally renowned musician, writer and citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma.

Emory University was founded in 1836 on the historic lands of the Muscogee (Creek) people, 15 years after the First Treaty of Indian Springs (1821) through which the U.S. government acquired this area of land from the Muscogee Nation. After this treaty, many Muscogee people relocated to Alabama, and were then forcibly removed to present-day Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears in 1836.

Harjo's poetry directly engages these histories of removal, displacement, dispossession, loss, resilience and resistance. 

She is the author of nine books of poetry, among them “An American Sunrise,” “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,” “How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems,” and “She Had Some Horses.” She is also the editor of two anthologies, including the recently released “Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry.”

Harjo’s first memoir, “Crazy Brave,” won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction and the American Book Award; she is working on a follow-up memoir. 

She is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the United States Artist Fellowship. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame in 2014.

Harjo is also the guest poet at the Rose Library’s 21st-annual 12th Night Revel fundraiser on Friday, March 19. This online event will include the Indigo Girls, Emory President Gregory L. Fenves and several surprise poetry readers to be revealed that evening.

12th Night Revel will be hosted by chief revelers Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of Emory University School of Medicine, professor of medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, and professor of global health and epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health; and Jeannette Guarner, a pathologist at Emory University Hospital and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory School of Medicine. Individual tickets are $75 and can be purchased at the 12th Night Revel ticket page

Harjo’s visit is hosted by the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library and sponsored by the Hightower Fund. It is co-sponsored by the AJC Decatur Book Festival, presented by Emory University; Creative Writing Program at Emory University; Emory College of Arts and Sciences; and the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

The event marks a celebration of Women's History Month in March. 

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