Joy Harjo is to become the twenty-third US Poet Laureate, and the first Native American to hold that role.
Harjo, 68, will represent both her Indigenous culture and those of the United States of America when she succeeds Tracy K. Smith as the country's 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (that's the official title) this fall. Her term, announced today by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, will make her the first Native American poet to serve in the position.
"It's such an honoring for Native people in this country, when we've been so disappeared and disregarded," Harjo says. "And yet we're the root cultures, over 500-something tribes and I don't know how many at first contact. But it's quite an honor ... I bear that honor on behalf of the people and my ancestors. So that's really exciting for me."
Wonderful news. There are many poems to offer a quote from, but this, from "Speaking Tree", has always stuck with me:
The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway —
To the edge of the river of life, and drink —