The University of Virginia was excited to welcome Joy Harjo, an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, for a virtual poetry reading on November 16, 2020. She is the first Native American to be awarded the honor of US Poet Laureate.
Harjo has published nine books of poetry, a memoir, and recently edited When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, which includes works by 160 poets representing nearly 100 Indigenous nations. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry—‘soul talk’ as she calls it—for over four decades,” Librarian of Congress Carla 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.”
A land acknowledgment and welcome to Monacan homelands was given by Teresa Pollak, enrolled member of the Monacan Indian Nation. University of Virginia President Jim Ryan welcomed and introduced our speaker. Jim Ryan is the 9th President of the University and a 1992 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.
The event was moderated by Kasey Jernigan, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Her work focuses on obesity, identity, and cultural uses of food among Oklahoma tribes. She is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and grew up in Tulsa, OK.
Harjo’s virtual visit was organized by Native American and Indigenous Studies @ UVA and supported by UVA’s Office of the President, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Office of Engagement, Mellon Indigenous Arts Program, Mapping Indigenous Worlds Humanities Lab, the UVA Library, the Global Studies Program, and the Departments of Anthropology and English.