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Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate: A Resource Guide

About Joy Harjo at the Library of Congress

Joy Harjo currently serves as the U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, having officially begun her term on September 19, 2019. The links below provide more information about Harjo's activities at the Library, including webcasts, blog posts, and related news releases.

On June 19, 2019, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the appointment of Joy Harjo as the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Harjo officially began her term as Laureate on September 19, when she opened the Library’s annual literary with a reading and performance of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium External. In addition to reading from her repertoire of poems spanning a 40-year career, Harjo, who is an award-winning musician, also performed with bassist Howard Cloud and keyboardist Robert Muller. View a webcast of the event here:

On April 30, 2020, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed Harjo to a second term. On making the reappointment, Dr. Hayden said:

Joy Harjo is such an inspiring and engaging poet laureate. I’m thrilled she said yes to a second term to help the Library showcase Native poets from coast-to-coast. Her profound musical and literary talents are a gift to the nation.

Harjo’s second term will begin Sept. 1, 2020, and will focus on her signature laureate project, “Living Nations, Living Words: A Map of First Peoples Poetry.” This digital project, developed in conjunction with the Library’s Geography and Map Division, will be created using ARCGIS StoryMaps, a web mapping application geared toward storytelling, to showcase contemporary Native American poets from across the country. 

The project will include Native poets’ biographies and recordings of them reading and discussing one of their poems. It will also help build a new collection in the Library’s American Folklife Center featuring the recordings of the Native poets.

Of her reappointment to a second term, Harjo said:

It is an honor to serve a second term as poet laureate, especially during these times of earth transformation and cultural change. Poetry reminds us that we are connected beyond words, and to communicate through poetry has the potential to expand the conversation into wordless depths, to help us move collectively into fresh cultural vision. To get there in understanding, we begin with the roots. In this country, the roots are found in the poetry of the more than 500 living indigenous nations.

Harjo's readings, projects, and other official activities as U.S. Poet Laureate will be documented in this space. A brief Q&A with Joy Harjo during her laureate orientation follows below.

Joy Harjo has been featured on both the Poetry and Literature Center's blog, From the Catbird Seat, and on the Library's main blog. Those blog posts are linked below:

The Library of Congress features several recordings of Joy Harjo reading and discussing her poetry and the poetry of other poets. These are listed below.


Audio Recordings