Alumna & US Poet Laureate Reflects on the Pandemic Year

English Alumna and US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo reflects on the lessons, rituals and gifts of the pandemic year. Poetry “can hold grief that’s too heavy to bear,” but poetry has also “been…one of the tools in the tool kit for how to get through these times,” according to Harjo.

Before the pandemic, poet Joy Harjo was “running towards exhaustion.”
At the time, Harjo, then on her second term as U.S. poet laureate, was bouncing between speaking engagements, as well as embarking on her laureate project — a sprawling, interactive anthology of Native American poets. But the pandemic’s closures stilled everything, drawing Harjo back to her home, back to her family, back to music, back to the elders, mentors and poets who have inspired her. The result is a shockingly prolific year.

Anne Branigin, The Lily

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