Posted 11:10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as the U.S. Poet Laureate, will visit UW-La Crosse for a reading and discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21. Harjo is a renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek Nation) and the author nine books of poetry.

Harjo’s poems explore Native history, culture, justice

UW-La Crosse and the Driftless Writing Center will welcome Joy Harjo — the first Native American to serve as the U.S. Poet Laureate — for a reading and discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21. 

Harjo, who lives and was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her second term as the 23rd Poet Laureate, a title given to the country’s official poet. 

The author of nine books of poetry — including the highly acclaimed “An American Sunrise” — several plays and children's books, and two memoirs, Harjo’s many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her latest, “I Pray for My Enemies.”  

She is executive editor of the anthology “When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry” and the editor of “Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry,” the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project 

Additionally, Harjo is the chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and Board of Directors chair for the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. She also holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. 

The public is invited to attend Harjo’s reading in 1400 Centennial Hall, 301 16th St. N., La Crosse. A Q&A and book-signing will follow the reading. 

Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All attendees must wear a mask during the event and while indoors on campus. While admission is free, attendees are asked to register 

Parking is available in front of the Fine Arts Center, at 16th and Vine streets. Contact the Driftless Writing Center at or 608-492-1669 to alert organizers to any accessibility needs. 

For those who can’t attend in person, the event will be livestreamed. 

Earlier in the day, Harjo will meet for an invitation-only discussion with UWL Native American students and other Native youth, UWL creative writing students, and other students interested in her work as a writer, musician and activist. 

These events are co-sponsored by the Driftless Writing Center, the UWL English Department, the UWL College of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, and the UWL Provost’s Office. 

Pre-visit Celebration 

The English Department will hold a Pre-Visit Celebration at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, in room 3130 of the Student Union. 

This free event gives students and others a chance to learn about, read and discuss Harjo’s poetry before her visit to campus.