An American Sunrise

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her third term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States.

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, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo 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.

Archive of Nov 4, 2021 Big Read Event featuring Indigenous poets Vivian Faith Prescott, Marie Tozier and X’unei Lance Twitchell read from their work and discuss poetic lineage, the influence of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and the importance of increasing visibility of Indigenous people and poetry.
Photo by Paul Abdoo
The “Living Nations, Living Words” project features a sampling of work from 47 Native Nations poets through an interactive arcGIS Story Map
Supplemental Lecture: During Fall 2019, Dr. Sol Neely, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, traveled the Trail of Tears with his father and daughter, meditating on historical violence, transgenerational perseverance, memory, and repair. In his presentation, which inaugurates National Native American Heritage Month at UAS, Dr. Neely will draw from this experience in a blend of memoir, critical theory, story, and Indigenous philosophy to talk about what it means to be Cherokee in the Raven Bioregion.
An American Sunrise: Southeast Alaska Writers Celebrate U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Mar 26 2022 @ 1:30-3:30. Click image for registration and more information.
NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment
for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.


Andi Hirsh, Juneau Public Library