US Laureate/Poet Rearranges The Alphabet – Poetry News Roundup June 20th

Today on My Poetic Side we take a look at the new poet laureate of the U.S. and the poet who rearranged the alphabet.

Joy Harjo Named as Next U.S. Poet Laureate

The poet Joy Harjo is the first Native American to be named as the U.S. poet laureate.

For many years Harjo has been what she describes as an unofficial poetry ambassador. For many years she has been “on the road for poetry!” Often being the only poet or Native poetry related person that many people have ever seen or heard. She has introduced audiences to Native poetry.

The appointment was announced yesterday by Carla Hayden the Librarian of Congress. In her statement, Hayden said that Harjo had helped to tell an “American story” both traditions that have been maintained and those that have been lost. Harjo will serve in the term for just the one year. She will be taking over from Tracey K. Smith who has served two terms as the Poet Laureate.

The position, which carries the official title Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, has a stipend of $35,000. There are relatively few responsibilities that come with the role, but former laureates have launched several initiatives. Smith’s most recent one was to launch a tour of rural communities all over the country. Harjo says that she has no particular project in mind, but she would like to bring the poetry contributions made by the tribal nations to the forefront and ensure that they are included in poetry discussions.

Harjo is a native of Tulsa Oklahoma and an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She is well known for her collections of poetry such as “The Woman Who Fell From The Sky” and “In Mad Love and War”. She is a winner of the PEN Open Book Award and the Wallace Stevens Award which is given for lifetime achievement. She was awarded the Jackson Prize earlier this year for being a “poet of merit who deserves more attention.”

Currently Harjo is working on an anthology of Native poets which she is editing, she is also working on a book of her own poems which should be published in August.

The post of Poet Laureate is not a political one, and Harjo has made her disdain clear in the past for those who seek office. She has also in the past expressed her views on the current president. She has recently declined to talk directly about Trump; saying instead that “everything is political”.

Poet Rearranges Alphabet

Jos Charles, the well-known transgender poet, was announced as one of the finalists by the Pulitzer Committee at the end of April and was reported earlier this week on “Queerty” the pro-LGBT news site.

Charles has been nominated for her newest project in which she makes the alphabet more inclusive for transgender people by rearranging it.

Since Queerty reported the news it has been met with rather negative feedback on Twitter.

One reader commented

and this reader was not alone. The Pulitzer Committee, however, disagree and stand firmly behind their decision.



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