Joy Harjo Named U.S.'s First Native American Poet Laureate

We are delighted to congratulate Joy Harjo, the newly named 23rd poet laureate of the United States, and the first Native American to serve in the position, which she will hold from this September until 2021. 

A member of the Mvskoke Creek Nation, Harjo has written over a dozen books, including poetry, essays, children's fiction, and and memoris. Three of her books were published by Wesleyan University Press, a client distributed by HFS, including the American Book Award-winning poetry collection In Mad Love and War, a collection of pedagogical piece entitled Soul Talk, Song Language, and Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and a Circle of Responses, which was published in January.

In naming Harjo poet laureate, Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, said “Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry—‘soul talk’ as she calls it—for over four decades. 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.”

The following poem from In Mad Love and War is taken from the author's website:

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
The one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear,
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
that aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.

Read more about Harjo and the laureateship at the Library of Congress's website.


HFS (or Hopkins Fulfillment Services) was established in 1978 and is the distributor for Johns Hopkins University Press, Wesleyan University Press, and eleven other presses. For sales inquiries, please email Davida Breier.