Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo (Courtesy of Poetry Foundation)

Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo has been chosen by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden to be the United States’ first-ever Native American poet laureate.

Harjo will take the reins in the fall, succeeding Tracy K. Smith, who held the position for two years.

“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Harjo told The New York Times, “this kind of award honors the place of Naïve people in this country, the place of Native people’s poetry.”

Harjo, 68, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, has written eight books of poetry, a memoir and two books for young audiences.

She often draws in Native American stories, languages and myths in her work, saying that it “became a way to speak about especially Native women’s experience at a time of great social change.”

Harjo, who often speaks of diversity of humanity and connecting the global with the personal, said she hopes her time as poet laureate serves as a reminder that “poetry belongs to everyone.”

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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