We are thrilled that Joy Harjo joins us today to discuss her collection of poems, An American Sunrise. Several Hope College classes engaged with this book or met with Harjo to talk about the writing process. 

Professor Moreau’s English 380 Class: 

Professor Bill Moreau teaches the secondary English methods class at Hope College. His class read our Big Read book An American Sunrise this semester and prepared book discussions for various places in the Holland area. 

Professor Moreau shared about the process in a recent blog post from the Hope College English department:

“We are researching this collection of writings as a piece of literature, looking into the background and life of the author, and discovering information about the history of the Indigenous people of North America. We are also learning about “Indian schools” and discussing main ideas, themes, takeaways, and lessons learned from reading and studying this book of poems (and other short pieces).” 

A few of his students summarized Harjo’s book in a few sentences:  

  1. “Harjo blends masterful poetry and poignant language to remind us all of the importance of memory.” -Seth 
  2. “Whether one is looking for poetry about the beauty of nature or prose about lingering generational trauma, An American Sunrise allows readers to step into her shoes.  Joy Harjo opens up the doors to what it means to be an Indigenous member of the Mvskoke people living in modern day America.” -Andrea 

Hope College English Majors and Minors: 

Harjo joined Hope College English majors and minors and several creative writing classes to share about writing. One student asked Harjo how she made the decision to include poems from other authors and order the poems the way she did. Harjo shared that the inspiration for this book of poems was thinking “What did I learn here” as she was leaving a university position in Knoxville. Poems published in An American Sunrise emerged and the book became a way to frame history. 

Join us Monday at 8pm for another conversation with Joy Harjo and the opportunity to learn more about her collection of poetry and her experience as an author, poet laureate, and musician.

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