“What we speak always returns
With a spike of barbs
Or the sweet taste of berries in the summer”.

–  Joy Harjo, from the poem:
“Mama and Papa have the
Going Home Shiprock Blues

Song 6: Let ‘Em Eat Grass”


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.*

*From NEA Big Read Reader’s Guide 

Click here to reserve a copy of An American Sunrise from the Library

Alternative title for young readers:

This year’s companion title for young readers is The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Click here to reserve a copy from the Library


This series would not be possible without:

The National Endowment for the Arts

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest

Attleboro Arts Museum


Attleboro Public Library 

Bristol County Savings Bank

Friends of Attleboro Public Library


Massachusetts Cultural Council

This program is supported by the Attleboro Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency

Rotary Club of Attleboro

The Sun Chronicle


Trustees of Attleboro Public Library