LitWatch Monthly: Joy Harjo and author conversations

March marks another full calendar of author conversations and virtual workshops, including a seminar on the work of United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

I came into poetry feeling as though, on some level, these words were not just mine but my grandparents’, their parents’.”
― Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is America’s first Native American Mvskoke Nation Poet Laureate. Named the 23rd United States Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress in 2019, she is the second-ever poet to serve three terms in this position. Her third term, beginning this Spring 2021, brings forth a new digital signature project, Living Nations, Living Words. This unique project will feature a fully interactive map of First Peoples Poetry, focusing on 47 different Native American poets by mapping their works and locations nationwide.

Harjo first began writing poetry in 1973 at the age of 23. Before becoming one of the country’s most beloved living poets, she attended the University of New Mexico to study medicine. Inspired by her heritage, the company of artists around her, and the beauty of New Mexico’s landscape, Harjo changed her major to art before penning her first book of poems, The Last Song, in 1975.

Joy Harjo has continued to inspire many artists and writers throughout her long and successful career as both a poet and musician, describing her work as “a memory on which to build.” Her latest book of poems, An American Sunrise, is a breathtaking collection about the beauty of her native homeland and the forced displacement of her own ancestors. This new book of poems will be the topic of an upcoming six-session-long seminar presented by Literary Arts and Delve Readers Seminars called Joy Harjo: American Sunrise. Each Thursday from March 25 to April 29, writer and educator Danielle Frandina will lead participants in the reading of Harjo’s 2019 release An American Sunrise and her 2012 memoir Crazy Brave.

23rd United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Photograph by Karen Kuehn.

Open to all poetry lovers, the Joy Harjo: American Sunrise workshop will offer an engaging look into the works and early life of Harjo, examining how themes of ancestry, repetition, and loss exist within her work. On Tuesday, April 20, participants of this course will also be given access to Harjo’s much anticipated live lecture as part of the Portland Arts & Lectures Series.


Week 1: March 1-7

One Page Wednesday
Presented by Literary Arts
Wednesday, March 3
6:30-8 pm
Hosted Virtually
Free Event

One Page Wednesday, hosted by memoirist Natalie Serber, is an opportunity for writers to share or listen to one page of a current work in progress. Open to writers of all levels, participants will also get to hear work from featured reader, Molly Gaudry. Gaudry is the author of the verse novels Desire: A Haunting and We Take Me Apart, as well as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University.

Richard Brown in Conversation with Brian Benson
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, March 5
6 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Richard Brown is a photographer, activist, and author working to empower Black people. A Black Portlander who has spent much of his life working to bridge the divide between police and the Black community, Brown joins author Brian Benson in conversation about his first book This Is Not For You, published by Oregon State University. Brown’s captivating memoir follows his first-hand experiences with fellow activists, both into squad cars and to regular meetings with mayors and police chiefs.

Friday Night Lecture: Echoes of The Kalevala in the Novel Deep River
Presented by Nordic Northwest
Friday, March 5
7:30 pm
Hosted Virtually
$5 general, free for members

Nordic Northwest hosts Seaside, Oregon-born author Karl Marlantes and his presentation about his novel Deep River and its parallels to the 19th-century Finnish epic folklore poem The Kalevala. An epic Earth creation story passed down orally through generations, Elias Lönnrot’s The Kalevala tells of the people’s struggles in the face of coming Christianity.


Week 2: March 8-14

Rebecca Solnit in Conversation with Jia Tolentino
Presented by Powell’s Books
Tuesday, March 9
5 pm via ZOOM
$16 entry with book purchase

Powell’s Books presents Rebecca Solnit in conversation with New Yorker staff writer and author Jia Tolentino. Solnit, author of A Field Guide to Getting Lost and Men Explain Things To Me, describes her formation as a writer and feminist in 1980s San Francisco through her newest work Recollections of My Nonexistence (Penguin). Exploring the books, gay communities, and landscapes that helped shape her identity, Solnit’s memoir shares a personal look into what inspired her to begin using her voice for change.

Livestream Reading: Phillip Margolin
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Tuesday, March 9
7 pm
Held Virtually
Free Event

New York Times bestseller and author of Violent Crimes Phillip Margolin returns to Annie Bloom’s Books to read from his newest thriller A Matter of Life and Death. Full of blackmail, suspense, and courtroom drama, this exciting new work from veteran Portland writer Margolin features protagonist Attorney Robin Lockwood in her most challenging case yet.

Michelle Nijhuis in Conversation with Elena Passarello
Presented by Powell’s Books
Friday, March 12
5 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Acclaimed science journalist Michelle Nijhuis joins Elena Passarello, author of Animals Strike Curious Poses, in conversation about Beloved Beasts (W.W. Norton). Tracing the role of conservation scientists and activists starting at the end of the 19th century, Beloved Beasts reveals the origins of vital organizations like the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund, highlights current conservation efforts, and looks at how conservation has become a vast effort to save a myriad of species.


Week 3: March 16-22

Virtual Story Time about Portland Hero Hazel Ying Lee
Presented by Green Bean Books
Tuesday, March 16
11 am
Held Virtually
Free Event

Green Bean Books presents a child-friendly event celebrating Women’s History Month. Author Julie Leung and illustrator Julie Kwon will virtually read The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee. An inspiring children’s picture book biography about the first Chinese-American woman to fly for the United States military during World War II, the book explores the life of Portland-born Hazel Ying Lee, a courageous figure in Oregon’s local history.

The Fearless Flights pictured next to a photograph of Chinese-American pilot Hazel Ying Lee.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein in Conversation with Elissa Washuta
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, March 17
5 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Presented by Powell’s Books, author of The Disordered Cosmos (Bold Type Books) and esteemed physicist Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein will be in conversation with writer and editor Elissa Washuta. Dr. Prescod-Weinstein will discuss her love and knowledge of physics including the Standard Model of Particle Physics, the physics of melanin in skin, and the latest theories of dark matter. Grounded in Black feminist traditions, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein “lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky.” (Powell’s Books)

Whitney Otto in Conversation with Lidia Yuknavitch
Presented by Powell’s Books
Thursday, March 18
5 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Author Whitney Otto features the lives of eight influential pioneering women photographers in her new book Art for the Ladylike (Mad Creek Books). Showcasing Sally Mann, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Ruth Orkin, Tina Modotti, Lee Miller, Madame Yvonne, and Grete Stern, Otto considers how relationships, careers, and feminism had an impact on these photographers’ works. Otto will be in conversation with author of Verge and The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknavitch.


Week 4: March 23-31

Kale Williams in Conversation with Jon Mooallem
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, March 24
5 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Powell’s Books presents Oregonian reporter Kale Williams in conversation with The New York Times Magazine writer at large Jon Mooallem discussing The Loneliest Polar Bear (Crown). In Williams’s new work, she chronicles the struggles faced by Colombus Zoo veterinarians and zookeepers when they must hand-raise an abandoned polar bear cub named Nora. As sea ice diminishes and arctic temperatures rise, both Nora the polar bear and the native Inupiat polar bear hunters living near the Alaskan village of Wales must fight for survival in an increasingly devastating environmental collapse.

Joy Harjo: American Sunrise
Presented by Literary Arts & Delve Readers Seminars
Thursdays, March 25-April 29
6-8pm via ZOOM
$240 with access rates available

Presented by Literary Arts and Delve Readers Seminars, Danielle Frandina hosts a six-week-long seminar exploring the works and early life of 23rd United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Harjo is the first Native American Mvskoke Nation Poet Laureate and the winner of the 2013 American Book Award and 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize. Workshop participants will read Harjo’s newest book of poems An American Sunrise and her 2012 memoir Crazy Brave, and receive access to Harjo’s live April lecture.

Livestream Reading: Emmeline Duncan
Presented by Annie Bloom’s Books
Tuesday, March 30
7 pm
Held Virtually
Free Event

Portland-based author and 2020 Oregon Literary Fellow Emmeline Duncan, aka Kelly Garret, will read from her new mystery novel, Fresh Brewed Murder. Joined by Northwest mystery authors Allie Alexander, Alicia Beckman (aka Leslie Budewitz), and Angela M. Sanders, Duncan will share the suspenseful story of protagonist Sage Caplin, a coffee cart owner looking to clear her name from the suspect list of a gruesome murder.

Jonathan Meiburg in Conversation with Michael Azerrad
Presented by Powell’s Books
Wednesday, March 31
5 pm via ZOOM
Free Event

Jonathan Meiberg will join author of Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, Michael Azerrad, to discuss A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey (Knopf). In his hybrid of science writing, travelogue, and biography, Meiberg considers the story of the crow-like falcons seen by Charles Darwin in the Falkland Islands during 1833 and the reasons for their island confinement.

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