NEA Big Read Updates – An American Sunrise:Poems by Joy Harjo!

Events – Adults

Save the Date!

  • Rumble: Documentary Screening – Coming in January 2022
  • An American Sunrise Book Discussion – Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 2pm
  • Author Talk with Joy Harjo – Tuesday, April 19, 2022

(Above – Oct. 11, 2021 Storytime at The Dennos Museum)

Related Reading Lists

Related past exhibits at the Dennos: Away From Home; Close to Home


Grand Traverse Region to Read and Celebrate An American Sunrise:Poems by Joy Harjo From August 2021-June 2022

June 9, 2021—Traverse City—Traverse Area District Library (TADL) is one of 61 organizations nationwide selected this year to receive a 2021-2022 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $17,353 will kick off a community reading program featuring An American Sunrise:Poems by Joy Harjo this fall. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. 

TADL applied for this NEA grant in the course of completing a new three-year strategic plan based on community input, a process led by Library Director Michele P. Howard. Much of the strategic plan feedback highlighted a wish for community inclusiveness and information sharing. “I’m so pleased to receive this grant,” Howard said. “Not only does it give us a chance to highlight a spectacular author and national Poet Laureate, we can also start fulfilling our community’s wishes for an inclusive perspective.” An American Sunrise: Poems is available in the TADL catalog and in Overdrive. Mark your calendars for April 19, 2022 when Ms. Harjo will visit and speak in Traverse City!

Joy Harjo is an American poet, musician, playwright, and author. She is the incumbent United States Poet Laureate. She is also only the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to serve three terms. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation (Este Mvskokvlke) and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). An important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century, Ms. Harjo studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, completed her undergraduate degree at University of New Mexico in 1976, and earned an MFA at the University of Iowa in its creative writing program.

TADL shared the news with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairman David M. Arroyo. “The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians would like to say Miigwetch – thank you – to the Traverse Area District Library and The Dennos Museum for selecting An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo as the NEA Big Read book and for creating programming that will showcase the Indigenous way of life for all people to enjoy,” Arroyo said.

“For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives,” said Ann Eilers, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “We congratulate the Traverse Area District Library for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

“We’re inspired by the creativity of this year’s NEA Big Read grantees, who are finding new ways to bring people together after a challenging year,” said Torrie Allen, President & CEO of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to support these organizations and communities as they explore the richness and diversity of American history and culture together through reading.”  

The books available for the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read explore different aspects of American history and culture. Through the featured works grantees create programming that helps communities to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we’re going. 

TADL is pleased to recognize local partners for this project, including: Dennos Museum Center, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, TADL branch libraries (the Main Library, the East Bay Branch Library, and the Kingsley Branch Library), TADL member libraries (the Fife Lake Public Library, the Interlochen Public Library, and the Peninsula Community Library), and the Suttons Bay-Bingham District Library (the closest library to Peshawbestown). TADL’s grant application received letters of support from Traverse Area Community Media, the National Writers Series, Front Street Writers, and Horizon Books. 

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $23 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15 years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 90,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit

TADL provides dynamic resources and innovative services to stimulate intellectual curiosity, facilitate lifelong learning, promote literacy, and nurture personal enrichment. Circulating over 1,000,000 items each year, TADL provides an ever-expanding variety of services, including a broad collection of books and audiobooks, digital downloads and streaming, public computer and technology center, free WiFi, a Talking Book Library, and free programming for all ages. Details on both the NEA Big Read and the new strategic plan will be published soon on For information on our other new project – a community bookmobile – please visit

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.

Arts Midwest believes that creativity has the power to inspire and unite humanity. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest grows, gathers, and invests in creative organizations and communities throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit

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