Joy Harjo Has Been Selected as the Poet Laureate of the United States

The Library of Congress has selected Joy Harjo as the twenty-third Poet Laureate of the United States. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Harjo recently stepped down from her post as the John C. Hodges Chair of Excellence in the department of English at the University of Tennessee. Earlier she served as a professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Illinois. She has also taught at Arizona State University, the University of Colorado, the University of Arizona, and the University of New Mexico.

Professor Harjo is the author of several books of poetry including Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015), How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002), The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award, In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which won an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwarts Memorial Award, and What Moon Drove Me to This? (Reed Books, 1979). She is also the author of the memoir Crazy Brave (W. W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction.

As a performer, Harjo has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam in venues across the country and internationally. She plays saxophone with her band Poetic Justic, and has released four award-winning CD’s of original music. In 2009, she won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year.

Some of Professor Harjo’s other notable honors include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She has earned fellowships with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2017, Professor Harjo was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation. The award comes with a $100,000 prize.

Professor Harjo holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and a master of fine arts degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop.

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