Keynote

Keynote: Joy Harjo

Thursday, January 6
In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate and became the first Native American to hold the position. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine books of poetry, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs.

Her many writing awards include the 2019 Jackson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.

As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. Her album of traditional flute, Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears and Winding Through the Milky Way, won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. She also performs her one-woman show, “Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light,” which premiered at the Wells Fargo Theater in Los Angeles in 2009 with other performances at the Public Theater in NYC and at the LaJolla Playhouse as part of the Native Voices at the Autry. She has a commission from the Public Theater to write “We Were There When Jazz Was Invented” — a musical play that will restore southeastern natives to the American story of blues and jazz.

Harjo is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Rasmuson United States Artist Fellowship. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. In 2014 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

United States Poet Laureate (2019-2022); Author, Poet Warrior and American Sunrise

Photo: Matika Wilbur