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Joy Harjo: First Native American Poet Laureate

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Multifaceted artist-performer, Joy Harjo, has become the nation’s 23rd and newest poet laureate. She’s also the first Native American to hold the post. Joy is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and member of the Muskogee Creek Nation. But her talent isn’t limited to just writing poems that stir the soul. She’s also a musician and activist, and has been actively performing since the ’70s.

This announcement is huge, causing a major ripple effect throughout the greater Indigenous community of the United States.

In a hotbed political climate where the voices of marginalized groups struggle to gain the sizable momentum that results in significant change, Joy Harjo is in the unique position to draw attention to Indigenous causes.

It is also a moment of validation for the moving art created by Native writers:

Harjo, a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation, says the appointment ‘honors the place of Native people in this country, the place of Native people’s poetry.’

Interview with Joy Harjo
Smithsonian

What Does It Mean to Be Poet Laureate?

In this video interview produced by the Library of Congress, watch Joy Harjo discuss where inspiration comes from, the writing process, and read her poem “Bless This Land.”

Her voice is needed now more than ever.

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