NEA Big Read 2021

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About NEA Big Read: Toms River 2021 Keynote Event

NEA Big Read 2021

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An American Sunrise author and U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will give a keynote presentation as part of the Toms River Regional Schools’ Big Read on May 27, 2021.

This virtual event is hosted by Toms River Regional Schools and made possible by a grant by NEA Big Read and Arts Midwest.  For more information on the NEA Big Read: Toms River project, please visit their website:

About An American Sunrise

Writer, musician, and current Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. An American Sunrise—her eighth collection of poems—revisits the homeland from which her ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act. It is a “profound, brilliantly conceived song cycle, celebrating ancestors, present and future generations, historic endurance and fresh beginnings,” wrote critic Jane Ciabattari. “Rich and deeply engaging, An American Sunrise creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past” (Washington Post). Harjo’s many awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets; and two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. “To read the poetry of Joy Harjo is to hear the voice of the earth, to see the landscape of time and timelessness, and, most important, to get a glimpse of people who struggle to understand, to know themselves, and to survive” (Poetry Foundation). “Joy Harjo is a giant-hearted, gorgeous, and glorious gift to the world,” said author Pam Houston. “Her belief in art, in spirit, is so powerful, it can’t help but spill over to us—lucky readers.”

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May 27, 2021
10:00 am EDT
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