Joy Harjo

Shawn Miller / Library Of Congress

Muscogee (Creek) Citizen Joy Harjo has been appointed to a third term as the U.S. Poet Laureate.

First appointed as U.S. Poet Laureate in 2019, she's the second poet to serve this many terms. The first was Robert Pinsky in 1997.

As U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo was working on the Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, she and the other editors decided they needed to hear the whole collection.

"At one point in the editing, we decided to read the whole manuscript aloud," Harjo says. "That's how I revise, so that's what we did — is we took it into our mouths and took it to our bodies."

The result of that work is When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through -- an anthology of poetry from more than 160 poets, representing close to 100 indigenous nations.

If the name of this year's U.S. Poet Laureate sounds familiar, that could be because Joy Harjo was also last year's pick for the job. In a statement announcing the reappointment, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden called Harjo "an inspiring and engaging poet laureate," who would "help the Library showcase Native poets from coast-to-coast."

There is occasional confusion about the nature of the United States poet laureateship: The selection of laureate has nothing to do with the president.

The poet is selected by the Librarian of Congress, meaning the laureate works for a completely different branch of the government. This is a smart and useful separation of powers: An advocate of free speech and education should not be beholden to a president, especially this one.

Shawn Miller / Library Of Congress


The new poet laureate of the United States is also the first Native American appointed to the post. We'll talk with Joy Harjo.

Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee 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.

facebook.com/joyharjopoetsax

Poet and musician Joy Harjo, known for drawing upon her Muskogee Creek heritage and the Southwest America landscape, has won a $100,000 prize for lifetime achievement.

The Academy of American Poets announced Thursday that the 64-year-old Oklahoma native received the Wallace Stevens Award for "proven mastery." The academy praised Harjo for her "visionary justice-seeking art" and for transforming "bitterness to beauty" and "trauma to healing."

Her books include "How We Became Human" and "The Woman Who Fell from the Sky."