The Academy of American Poets invited twelve guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2020. In this short Q&A, Joy Harjo, the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor for National Poetry Month, discusses her curatorial approach for April and her own creative work.

Poets.org: How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day?

Joy Harjo: I believe what makes Poem-a-Day essential, and why it attracts such a large readership, is the wide-ranging selection of poets and poems from month to month. In my curation I wanted to make sure that a variety of generations, styles, voices, and aesthetics were represented.

Poets.org: If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at Poets.org that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

JH: Natalie Diaz, “How the Milky Way Was Made”—the poem is so layered, time over time, river past over river present and future, body over and under body, and the mythical-real story that undergirds all lands and stories in our human beingness.

Poets.org: Who are you reading right now? 

JH: So many fine new poetry collections have been released this spring, including Carolyn Forché’s In the Lateness of the World, Santee Frazier’s Aurum, and Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem. I performed recently in Wellington, New Zealand and discovered the poet Tayi Tibble and her award-winning collection, Poūkahangatus. And I just finished Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of Isis by Azadeh Moaveni, whom I shared a panel with at the Adelaide Writers Festival. A powerful rendering of a complicated story.

Poets.org: What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

JH: The editors and I just turned in the first round of copy edits for When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: a Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. It is due to be released this coming fall. I am revising my musical play, We Were There When Jazz Was Invented, and working on the music. I have started the follow up memoir to Crazy Brave, even as I continue to travel and speak and perform. 

Poets.org: How do you see National Poetry Month changing or shifting in the current climate? 

JH: Poetry is always happening, and will continue to be there, no matter the season. 

Read Poem-a-Day.

Back to Guest Editors for 2020.