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NEA Big Read

Schedule of Programs

Programming related to the NEA Big Read will take place from September 2020 through April 2021. This schedule will be updated regularly as programs are planned. All information listed is subject to change.

 

Blaeser photo

Native Arts & Indigenous Flourishing: Reading and Presentation

Presented by author Kim Blaeser
Monday, April 19, 6 p.m., virtual event, via Zoom
Hosted by the EIU Department of English
 

Kimberly Blaeser, past Wisconsin Poet Laureate, is the author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the 2020 bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. An Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, she also edited Traces in BloodBone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. Blaeser is a professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA faculty member for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her photographs, picto-poems and ekphrastic pieces have been included in exhibits such as “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.” She lives in rural Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. Blaeser is founding director of the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets. In this program, Blaeser will discuss her picto-poems and the role of art in Native communities.

 

Be an Animal: A Workshop with Megan Kaminski

Tuesday, April 20, 10-11 a.m., virtual event on Zoom
Recommended ages: Grades 3-5
Sponsored by the Tarble Arts Center

Be an Animal is a workshop that will look to our animal kin for inspiration. We'll explore other ways of seeing, being and inhabiting this world as a point for opening our own creative potential. We'll learn lots from our more-than-human friends, discover new things about ourselves, and write some poems. To participate in this workshop, register for free on Eventbrite.

A Zoom link will be emailed to registered attendees two hours before the event start time. For more information contact the Tarble Arts Center at 217-581-2787 or email tarble@eiu.edu.

Megan Kaminski is a poet and essayist, and the author of three books of poetry, "Deep City," "Desiring Map," and a new book, "Gentlewomen" (Noemi Press 2020), which explores care, trauma, and resilience as well as our estrangement from the natural world and from ourselves through the conceit of a trio of allegorical sisters. Her current public-facing work, in the form of the prairie divination deck and Ad Astra Project, focuses on helping people connect to their own ecosystems as a source of knowledge and inspiration for strategies to live in their world, to grieve and heal after loss, and to realign their thinking toward kindship, community and sustainability.

An associate professor in English and co-director of the Global Grasslands CoLABorative at the University of Kansas, Kaminski specializes in poetry and poetics, queer ecology, somatics, and the environmental humanities. Her work is informed by interdisciplinary research in social welfare, evolutionary biology and philosophy, as well as previous work in the healing arts and at non-profit environmental organizations.

 

Discussion/workshoCrazy Brave book coverp: The Knowing was Always Right

Thursday, April 22, 2021, 6-7:30 p.m., virtual event
Hosted by Charlotte England, PhD, and Daiva Markelis, PhD
Sponsored by the Coles County Arts Council and Academy of Lifelong Learning

"In the end, we must each tend to our own gulfs of sadness," Joy Harjo writes in her inspiring, poetic, and deeply emotional memoir, "Crazy Brave."
 
Others can assist us, but we must find the path to self-knowledge ourselves, with art, poetry, memoir, music and nature as our guides. This discussion/workshop will look at the way Harjo weaves dreams, poems and visions from her American Indian past into a narrative that reveals both the incredible sadness and the powerful beauty of her life. After discussing what makes Harjo's poetry, as well as her memoir, so remarkable, participants will free write on a childhood memory and then will experiment with adding poetry, dreams, song lyrics, etc., in order to enrich their memoir.
 
This program is free and open to the public. Registration is required by April 20. For information, visit https://www.eiu.edu/adulted/all.php.
 
 

Past programming

 

Virtual book discussion, April 14, noon, on Zoom

Presented by Lake Land College Library

The Lake Land College Library hosted a discussion of the NEA Big Read selection "An American Sunrise," by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. English instructors Salisa Olmsted and Matt Landrus led discussion of Harjo's powerful collection of poetry that confronts the past - her Muscogee (Creek) Nation ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act.

 

Poetry and Movement series, Feb. 13, 20, 27, 3-4 p.m. on Zoom

A workshop with Jana Harper and Rebecca Steinberg
Presented by the Tarble Arts Center
 
Participants joined together online to experience short films from the Tarble Arts Center exhibition, "Press Play," read a poem from Joy Harjo's "An American Sunrise" and collectively participated in a gentle movement exercise led by facilitators and inspired by the poem.
 
 

Virtual book discussion, Feb. 25, 4 p.m., via Zoom

Sponsored by the Charleston Carnegie Public Library
The Charleston Carnegie Public Library hosted a discussion of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo's book, "An American Sunrise."
 
 

Big Read Story Time, Feb. 18, 10:30-11 a.m., virtual event

Recording available on Facebook Live, https://www.facebook.com/Charlestonlibrary
Presented by the Charleston Carnegie Public Library

Miss Brenda presents a special story time for preschoolers featuring stories from Native American authors, including the 2021 Caldecott Medal winner, "We are Water Protectors."
 

 

An Evening with Joan Kane, Feb. 4, 5-7 p.m., virtual event

Part of the Lions in Winter festival sponsored by the EIU Department of English
 
The EIU English Department presented a reading and craft talk with Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane. Kane grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and writes about threats to her ancestral community. Loss of elders with specific cultural knowledge concerns her as she raises children. Lions in Winter is an annual literary festival hosted by EIU's Department of English that has included author readings; crafts talks by featured writers in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction; editor panels; and book fairs.
 

 

NEA Big Read: A Conversation with Joy Harjo, Jan. 30, 2021, 1-2 p.m. CST, 2-3 p.m. EST

Virtual presentation via Microsoft Teams

Part of the Lions in Winter festival sponsored by the EIU Department of English
Co-sponsored by Broward County Library, Broward Public Library Foundation, Inc., and Florida Center for the Book

Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation and current U.S. poet laureate, in a virtual conversation, as she reads works from her latest book An American Sunrise: Poems and has a moderated Q+A discussion. In 2019, Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position. She recently was reappointed to the poistion for a third term. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is an internationally known award-winning poet, writer, performer, and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation.

 

Virtual book discussion, Jan. 22, 2021, 6 p.m., via Zoom

The Mattoon Public Library hosted a discussion of the NEA Big Read selection "An American Sunrise," by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. The discussion was led by Stacy Fetters of Mattoon Public Library.

 

Lions in Winter Presents: An Evening with Brandon Hobson

Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, at 5 p.m., virtual event
Hosted by EIU English Department and Lions in Winter
EIU English presented this program, the first in this year's series of virtual Lions in Winter events: a reading and craft talk with National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson, author of "Where the Dead Sit Talking" (Soho, 2018) and "The Removed" (HarperCollins, 2021). Hobson's novel, "Where the Dead Sit Talking," was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction. He is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at New Mexico State University and a writing mentor at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.

 

Virtual book discussion, Dec. 1, 2020, 4-5:30 p.m., via Zoom

The Academy of Lifelong Learning's Literary Divas book club discussed "An American Sunrise," by Joy Harjo, on Dec. 1. The academy is an outreach program that caters to adults who like to learn. The discussion leader was Marita Metzke.

 

Storytelling program, Nov. 9, 2020, live-streamed from the Doudna Fine Arts Center

A Peek Into the American Indian Way of Life Through Their History and Oral Traditions

Presented by Kim McIver Sigafus, Illinois Humanities Road Scholar

This presentation invited people into the world of the American Indian to discover what it once was to be Native, and what it means to be Native now. An Ojibwa, Kim was dressed in her traditional Native regalia, and presented on Native culture through oral traditions, language, and history. She discussed Native encampment life and drummed and sang an Ojibwa lullaby.

This program was funded by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Road Scholar Speakers Bureau, a program that provides organizations statewide with affordable, entertaining, and thought-provoking humanities events for their communities.


Book discussion, Sept. 28, 2020, private event

The Well Red Book Club discussed "An American Sunrise."


Virtual book discussion, Sept. 16, 2020, 5-7 p.m., via Zoom

The Tarble Arts Center Community Reads, a book club hosted online every third Wednesday of the month, discussed "An American Sunrise," by Joy Harjo.

 

Keynote address, Sept. 15, 2020, 6:30 p.m., via Microsoft Teams

From Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie to Harjo’s American Sunrise:  Words Matter, presented by Dr. Debbie Reese

Joy Harjo writes that in 1830 with “the American soldiers at our backs,” her people left their homelands for Indian Territory. Thirty-nine years later, Charles Ingalls took his family — including his two-year-old daughter, Laura — from their cabin in Wisconsin to Indian Territory. In her lecture, Dr. Debbie Reese talked about the works of these two women and ask that we consider how their words shape what readers know about the place called America and the people that call it home. 

 

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