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. 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. If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at 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. 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. 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. 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.

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