The Library of Congress has announced the 2019-2020 U.S. poet laureate.
Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, announced the appointment of Joy Harjo as the nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2019-2020.
Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position. She is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms, and who was featured on this blog in 2017.
Harjo will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on September 19, 2019, with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.
In her interview with WABE (Where ATL Meets NPR), Professor Harjo said, "Communities that normally would not sit with each other, I would love to see ... interchanges with poetry," Harjo says. She suggests gathering "cowboys and Indians" for a poetry summit. "I really believe if people sit together and hear their deepest feelings and thoughts beyond political divisiveness, it makes connections. There's connections made that can't be made with politicized language."
There have been seven female poet laureates in the United States as opposed to 23 males, according to information gathered from the Question-and-Answer section of LOC website.
Harjo joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.
It is worth noting that Dove was named US Poet Laureate in 1993, the first African American to hold the new title of Poet Laureate. Just forty years old at the time of her appointment, she was the youngest poet ever elected to the position.
According to The Root, Gwendolyn Brooks was named Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985, which was the old title of Poet Laureate.
Robert Hayden also was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1976. He was the first African American to hold the position of what is now called the Poet Laureate.
-----Quotes and other references are excerpts from the Library of Congress, Reddit, The Root, and WABE.
--My dream has loved paper so much for so long because it gave influence to the parched voice of a fashionista poet. Finding this outlet, that voice is now replete with expressive sound.