The Academy of American Poets Leadership Award to be Presented to Joy Harjo, Three-Term U.S. Poet Laureate, During National Poetry Month

New York, NY (March 24, 2022)— The Academy of American Poets is honored to present its 2022 Leadership Award in poetry to Joy Harjo, three-term Poet Laureate of the United States, during the organization’s signature National Poetry Month event, Poetry & the Creative Mind, which will be held virtually on April 28, 2022. The award, which was inaugurated in 2018, honors individuals, organizations, and publishers who have made significant contributions to the art of poetry. 

Harjo will be recognized for her role as the first-ever Native American U.S. Poet Laureate and only the second U.S. Poet Laureate in the position’s 77-year history to serve three terms, and for her leadership in championing Native Nations poets past and present through publications and projects like “​​Living Nations, Living Words,” which gathers works by contemporary Native poets from across the nation into a fully-digital map and audio collection, celebrating their essential contributions to American poetry. 

As part of the award, the Academy will make a $2,500 contribution in Harjo’s honor to a poetry organization of her choosing.  

“As longtime publishers to Joy Harjo, my Norton colleagues and I could not be more delighted that Joy will receive this distinguished award from the Academy of American Poets. In her work as an author and as U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo reaches out to people everywhere, young and old, to show us how poetry can unlock voices and experiences that must be heard, allowing us to understand ourselves and one another. We believe that this important work of hers is reflected in the Academy’s own comprehensive work with students and readers,” said Julia Reidhead, Chairman and President of W. W. Norton & Company.

“We are thrilled to honor Joy Harjo for her visionary leadership and many years of service to the poetry community, with great appreciation for her three inspiring and incredibly productive terms as U.S. Poet Laureate, and in celebration of her recent books Poet Warrior and Living Nations, Living Words, as well as her upcoming collection marking 50 extraordinary years in poetry,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Board Chair of the Academy of American Poets. 

The virtual Poetry & the Creative Mind gala will include a performance of favorite poems by leading and legendary actors, artists, musicians, and public figures. For more information about the event, and to register, visit: https://poets.org/gala/2022

Funds raised at Poetry & the Creative Mind will provide critical support for the Academy of American Poets Education Program, which reaches 100,000 students each year and provides free weekly resources to more than 30,000 K–12 educators nationwide. 

Joy Harjo was appointed the new United States poet laureate in June 2019, and is the first Native American Poet Laureate in the history of the position. Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv. She is a poet, musician, and playwright, and her most recent books include Poet Warrior (W. W. Norton, 2021), a memoir, and Living Nations, Living Words (W. W. Norton, 2021), an anthology that celebrates the breadth of Native poets writing today. Harjo is also the author of several books of poetry, including An American Sunrise (W. W. Norton, 2019); The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award. Her other honors include the Wallace Stevens Award, the Jackson Poetry Prize, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. She has also received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2019, Harjo was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and in 2022, she was named the Bob Dylan Center's first Artist-in-Residence. In addition to serving as U.S. Poet Laureate, Harjo directs For Girls Becoming, an arts mentorship program for young Mvskoke women, and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. 

About the Academy of American Poets

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states. The organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization through its prize program, giving a total of $1.25 million to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture.