In case you missed it last night: Joy Harjo’s Inaugural Reading as U.S. Poet Laureate; Poetry at the 2019 Brooklyn Book Festival

Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States. Photo by Shawn Miller, Library of Congress.

“Way way back: Music, poetry and dance came into the world together. Sometimes they get lonely for each other.” Joy Harjo during her Inaugural Reading



Joy Harjo gave her inaugural reading as the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress last night. Here it is in case you missed it. (One-and-three-quarters hours. You might want to bookmark it for later.) It is an understated event, nothing Hollywood about it, which was refreshing and a relief from the usual broadcast noise. Harjo filled her presentation with history, a sense of place, and music as well as poetry.

Harjo accepted the award on behalf of herself, of course, but also on behalf of tribal women/indigenous women everywhere. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, she is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.

“Every poem has a poem ancestor.” Joy Harjo during her Inaugural Reading


Poetry at the 2019 Brooklyn Book Festival

 

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of literary stars and emerging authors who represent the exciting world of literature today.

Participating poets include: Hala Alyan, Jericho Brown, Tina Chang, Nick Flynn, Rigoberto González, Ilya Kaminsky, Edgar Kunz, Sally Wen Mao, Ladan Osman, Jake Skeets, Sally Wen Mao, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, and Keith Wilson.

Drop by the Academy of American Poets booth (#321) at Brooklyn Borough Hall to pick up copies of Volumes 55 and 56 of American Poets magazine, purchase American Poets Prize–winners’ books for $5 each, and peruse discounted items from the Poets Shop. For more information about Academy events at the Festival, VISIT HERE.


ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! , September * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

First Native American to be named U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, a Member of the Muscogee Creek Nation

Harjo at “Legacies: A Conversation with Sandra Cisneros, Rita Dove, and Joy Harjo”, 2017 courtesy of Gage Skidmore under CC BY-SA 2.0

“I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds.”Joy Harjo, Secrets from the Center of the World


I don’t think I’ve seen Laureate news spread as quickly as this announcement today by the Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden: that is, the appointment of Joy Harjo as the nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2019-2020. Harjo will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.

Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms as laureate.

“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades,” Hayden said. “To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Harjo currently lives in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is also the nation’s first Poet Laureate from Oklahoma.

Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo, June 6, 2019. Photo by Shawn Miller, Library of Congess

“What a tremendous honor it is to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate,” Harjo said. “I share this honor with ancestors and teachers who inspired in me a love of poetry, who taught that words are powerful and can make change when understanding appears impossible, and how time and timelessness can live together within a poem. I count among these ancestors and teachers my Muscogee Creek people, the librarians who opened so many doors for all of us, and the original poets of the indigenous tribal nations of these lands, who were joined by diverse peoples from nations all over the world to make this country and this country’s poetry.”

Harjo joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, and is the author of eight books of poetry – including “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings” (W. W. Norton, 2015); “The Woman Who Fell From the Sky” (W. W. Norton, 1994), 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. Her next book of poems, “An American Sunrise,” will be published by W.W. Norton in fall 2019. Harjo has also written a memoir, “Crazy Brave” (W.W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction, as well as a children’s book, “The Good Luck Cat” (Harcourt, Brace 2000) and a young adult book, “For a Girl Becoming” (University of Arizona Press, 2009).

As a performer, Harjo has appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and in venues across the U.S. and internationally. In addition to her poetry, Harjo is a musician. She plays saxophone with her band, the Arrow Dynamics Band, and previously with Poetic Justice, and has released four award-winning CDs of original music. In 2009, she won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year.

Harjo’s many literary awards include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Harjo has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her collection “How We Become Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001” (W.W. Norton, 2002) was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its Big Read program. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Harjo has taught at UCLA and was until recently a professor and chair of excellence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has returned to her hometown where she holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

RELATED:

This post compiled courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Wikipedia, Amazon, and my personal library.

About the Laureateship

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1937, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library. Since then, many of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry – a position that the law states “is equivalent to that of Poet Laureate of the United States.”

During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties required of the Poet Laureate, who opens the literary season in the fall and closes it in the spring. In recent years, Laureates have initiated poetry projects that broaden the audiences for poetry.

For more information on the Poet Laureate and the Poetry and Literature Center, visit loc.gov/poetry. Consultants in Poetry and Poets Laureate Consultants in Poetry and their terms of service can be found at loc.gov/poetry/laureate.html.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



 

JUAN FELIPE HERRERA: From limited-English speaker and Migrant Farm-Worker to United States Poet Laureate

U. S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera (b. 1948)

U. S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera (b. 1948)

A year ago this month, the United States Library of Congress announced the appointment of former California Poet Laureate (2012-2014), Juan Felipe Herrera, to the position of national poet laureate, the highest honor awared to poets in these United States.

Herrera’s body of work is a reflection of the Mexican-American experience and is also representative of much that immigrants and migrants the world over have in common including the efforts and adjustments made along a path often leading to distinguished contributions to their communities and adoptive countries.

In announcing the appointment, James H. Billington – Librarian of Congress (1987-2015) – said of Herrera …

I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of  Leaves of Grass and expands upon it,” Billington said. “His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity.”

Herrera is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position. Herrera said …

This is a mega-honor for me, for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910—the honor is bigger than me. I want to take everything I have in me, weave it, merge it with the beauty that is in the Library of Congress, all the resources, the guidance of the staff and departments, and launch it with the heart-shaped dreams of the people. It is a miracle of many of us coming together.”

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Herrera has authored some twenty-eight books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, including Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (Dial Books,2014), a picture book showcasing inspirational Hispanic and Latino Americans.

Herrera was born in Fowler, California, in 1948. As the son of migrant farm workers, he moved around often, living in tents and trailers along the road in Southern California. He attended school in a variety of small towns from San Francisco to San Diego. In 1972 he was graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology. He then attended Stanford University, where he received a master’s degree in social anthropology. In 1990 he received a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

books-noted-juan-felipe-herreras-half-world-light-new-and-selected-poems

Enter the Void

Sit on the embankment,
a dust fleece, there is a tidal wave ahead of me.

It will never reach me. I live underground, under the Dead Sea,
under the benevolent rocks and forearms and
mortar shells and slender naked red green
torsos, black,
so much black.
en route:

this could be a train, listen:
it derails into a could.

excerpt on the conflict in the West Bank from Half the World Is Light, New and Collected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2008)

Herrera has published over a dozen poetry collections, including Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems , which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. He is also a celebrated young adult and children’s book author. His honors include the Américas Award for both Cinnamon Girl: letters found inside a cereal box and Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award for Featherless / Desplumado, the Ezra Jack Keats Award for Calling the Doves  and the Pura Belpré Author Honor Award for Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes and for Laughing Out Loud, I Fly.

For his poetry, Herrera has received two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, a PEN USA National Poetry Award, the PEN Oakland / Josephine Miles Award, a PEN / Beyond Margins Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Stanford University Chicano Fellows.

Herrera has served as the chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University, Fresno. He has held the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught until retiring last year. He is currently a visiting professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Appointed in 2011, he serves as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.

Juan Felipe Herrera’s Poet Laureate Project is La Casa De Colores or “the House of Colors” …

a house for all voices. In this house we will feed the hearth and heart of our communities with creativity and imagination. And we will stand together in times of struggle and joy. The website includes two features:

“La Familia (The Family) is an opportunity for you to contribute to an epic poem of all our voices and styles and experiences that will run the span of my Laureateship. By contributing to La Familia, you will be part of my family—and all our words will be seen and our voices be heard, throughout the nation and beyond.

“El Jardín (The Garden) is a special place where I will share my experiences with curators at the Library of Congress. Peek into the Library’s wealth of materials, such as: Pablo Neruda’s “España en el Corazón,” given to him by soldiers—the pages made out of their clothes turned to pulp; a letter the folksong pioneer Woody Guthrie wrote on the back of a dust jacket to Alan Lomax; a silkscreen by Yolanda M. López, on the courage of “Mujeres Trabajadoras”—women workers. I hope you will be as inspired by them as I am, and you can take the treasures of El Jardín with you—in heart and with pen.”

Herrera will begin serving his second term as U.S. Poet Laureate this September. His Amazon page is HERE.