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Former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Muskogee Creek) will receive the 2023 Harper Lee Award at the Monroe Literary Festival on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

The Harper Lee Award was named after the author of the classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Selected by a committee of writers and scholars, the annual award recognizes the lifetime achievement of a writer either born in Alabama or strongly connected to the state. 

Harjo served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022 and is the first Native American to hold the honor. 

"Joy Harjo is one of the great American writers of our time. All her artistry has deep ties, familial and spiritual, to the state of Alabama," said selection committee member Frye Gaillard. "Ms. Harjo is a member of the Muskogee Nation – and celebrates a connection to her Alabama homeland that was broken, but not erased, by the Trail of Tears." 

Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior,

Harjo was the winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets Leadership Award, She has several other honors that include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. 

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As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. She is exec­u­tive edi­tor of the anthol­o­gy When the Light of the World was Sub­dued, Our Songs Came Through – A Nor­ton Anthol­o­gy of Native Nations Poet­ry and the editor of Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project. 

She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and is the first Artist-in-Residence for Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Center. 

Harjo resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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