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Tulsan becomes first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate

Posted at 8:23 AM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 09:23:37-04

The Library of Congress has named Tulsan Joy Harjo the nation's 23rd Poet Laureate.

Harjo is the first Native American to serve as the nation's Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry - Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.

“What a tremendous honor it is to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate,” Harjo said. “I share this honor with ancestors and teachers who inspired in me a love of poetry, who taught that words are powerful and can make change when understanding appears impossible, and how time and timelessness can live together within a poem. I count among these ancestors and teachers my Muscogee Creek people, the librarians who opened so many doors for all of us, and the original poets of the indigenous tribal nations of these lands, who were joined by diverse peoples from nations all over the world to make this country and this country’s poetry.”

Harjo replaces Tracy K. Smith, who served in the post for two years.

“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades,” 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.”

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