Joy Harjo will become the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, making her the first Native American to hold the position.
Shawn Miller/Library of Congress
Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation — often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she’s not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it’s the other way around.
A native and resident of Tulsa, Okla. — she is also the first Oklahoman to be named U.S. Poet Laureate — Harjo says the appointment is an opportunity to continue a role she’s often assumed throughout her career: as an “ambassador” of poetry. The Library of Congress calls the position “the nation’s official poet,” and assigns a “modest minimum” of official duties in order to enable individual projects designed “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.”