Traditionally the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry begins and ends her terms with events at the Library of Congress. Joy Harjo kicked off her laureateship with a hugely successful opening event in September, and she will be back in our historic Coolidge Auditorium for a closing event next April (details to follow).
During the course of the laureate’s term, she often travels to give readings and talks at venues throughout the country—and some laureates cover most of the country in those eight months! Joy is no exception, and just a few weeks ago I met up with her at the Miami Book Fair. It was my second consecutive year at the fair, one of the largest and most popular in the country. At the 2018 fair I led a moderated discussion with former laureates Billy Collins and Juan Felipe Herrera, and this year was my first time in conversation with our current laureate. You can watch the full event at the Miami Book Fair video page under “PM SESSIONS AUDITORIUM, SAT Nov 23” (start the video at 2:10:16).
I have had two previous opportunities to talk with Joy publicly before her laureateship began—first about her memoir Crazy Brave, in a podcast to promote her 2012 National Book Festival appearance, and second just this past summer in a short webcast to promote her laureate appointment. We’ve come a long way since then, as you can imagine, and it was a thrill to talk about her poems and her work to promote poetry onstage at the Miami Book Fair. I also asked my dear friend Scott Cunningham, director of O, Miami, to join us for the discussion (O, Miami co-sponsored our event—and does amazing work to champion poetry in Miami-Dade County).
This year’s Miami Book Fair also marked another big moment for the office: For the first time, we handed out brand new Poet Laureate-themed bookmarks (Joymarks, if you will)! Every event attendee received one, and we’re offering them to each venue where Joy is participating in an event during her laureateship. We’re also including a list of participating event venues on Joy’s online research guide—which includes an event this evening, December 4, in Brookings, SD! Check back in mid-January for more information on her 2020 events; she may be coming to a city near you!