Harjo’s Third Term/Shange’s Dance We Do, Political Protester Arrested – Poetry News Roundup November 20th

Our final poetry news round-up of the week takes a look at Joy Harjo, who has just been confirmed for a third term as the US poet laureate. We also look at the posthumous book by Ntozake Shange and the row over a poster of a poet.

Third Term Confirmed for Joy Harjo

The first Native American poet to have been appointed to the role of poet laureate of the US, Joy Harjo has just been reappointed by the Library of Congress. It is rare for anyone to be asked to serve in the role for a third term.

Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Her original appointment began in 2019. The honour of the role that she has been given is particularly important for Indigenous peoples.

Since the position of poet laureate was established in the US 77 years ago, Harjo is only the second-ever poet laureate to serve in the position for three consecutive terms. The first poet to do so was Robert Pinsky. Her new term will begin in September 2021.

During a statement in which she announced the appointment, Carla Hayden the Librarian of Congress said that Harjo “has shown how poetry can help steady us and nurture us” when discussing the situation of the past 9 months with the pandemic. Harjo had recently stated how honoured she was to be serving the position during such a crisis.

Living Nations, Living Words, Harjo’s project which was recently completed was launched formally yesterday as part of Native American Heritage Month. The project consists of an online map which collects recordings and biographies from many contemporary Native poets from all over the country.

Ntozake Shange’s Dance We Do: A Poet Explores Black Dance

The first posthumously published book by Ntozake Shange, the visionary playwright and poet, was recently launched in a virtual ceremony by Barnard College, her alma mater.

This most recent creation is a testament to the community that creates dance and to the power of dance itself. The celebrations surrounding the publication involved scholars and friends of the poet who shared their memories of Ntozake and her zest for life.

For far too long, the study of Black dance history was largely invisible. However, by adding her voice to the cause, Shange has offered a very important look at the artform.

This book was released in October 2020 on the occasion of Shange’s birthday

Opposition Official Arrested for Replacing Political Poster

An opposition official in St Petersburg has been arrested for questioning following an incident where he tore up a poster of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russian, and replaced it with one of Alexander Pushkin.

When questioned, Nikita Yuferev stated that he had been angry to discover the poster of Pushkin that he had hung earlier in the week had been covered with one of a man who resembled Putin. Yabloko, the political party he is affiliated with claim that this is a “war” that has been going on for some considerable time.

In 2019, it was made a criminal offence to show “blatant disrespect” for Putin and government institutions.

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