One Book One Region kicks off
For the fifth consecutive year, Connecticut College is partnering with One Book One Region of Eastern Connecticut to bring community members and the College community together to discuss the 2020 selection, Crazy Brave, a transcendent memoir by Joy Harjo, the first Native American to be named U.S. poet laureate.
Winner of the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction and the American Book Award, Crazy Brave evokes the terrain and texture of Harjo’s birthplace in the Muscogee Creek Nation, as well as the mythology of her ancestors, tracing her story from childhood in an Oklahoma town to the discovery of her poetic voice as a young adult. Suffering the multiple indignities of racism, poverty and abuse, Harjo circumvented despair by embracing art, music and activism. Crazy Brave confronts the long American history of injustice against indigenous peoples, while affirming the power of art to liberate and heal.
Harjo is an internationally known award-winning poet, writer, performer and saxophone player. In 2019, she was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate.
Sandy Grande, professor of education and director of Connecticut College’s Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity, will introduce the memoir at a virtual kickoff event June 17 at 7 p.m. (Registration is required for the event; visit onebookoneregion.org to register.)
“As the current poet laureate, Joy Harjo is one of the most important figures in Native American arts and culture. While her life is not without hardship or controversy, the overarching narrative is one of resiliency,” Grande said.
“Particularly in this moment when Native communities are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and the ongoing harms of state violence, it’s important to attend to voices like Harjo’s, which call us to the restorative powers of poetry, art and music.”
One Book One Region is based on the idea of expanding a small book club to an entire community in order to broaden an appreciation of reading and break down barriers among community members.
Crazy Brave is also the Summer Read selection for the College, and Harjo will join the southeastern Connecticut community for an event to be determined this fall.
In addition to Crazy Brave, Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, as well as several plays and children’s books. She is the winner of the 2019 Jackson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.