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Joy Harjo's "An American Sunrise" Is A Dialogue With History


For the April meeting of the Talk of Iowa Book Club, we’ve been reading “An American Sunrise” a poetry collection by Joy Harjo.

Harjo is in her third term as U.S. Poet Laureate. She is the first Native American to serve as America’s poet and is a member of the Muscogee-Creek Nation. In addition to being an author, editor and poet, she is also a songwriter, singer and musician. This collection, “An American Sunrise” was published in 2019 and the title poem has recently been turned into a song featured on Harjo’s new album, “I Pray For My Enemies.”

The book, “An American Sunrise,” is often described as being in dialogue with history. Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe speaks with Harjo about what that means.

Then, expert readers Linda LeGrade Grover and Mary Swander join the conversation to discuss their interpretations of Harjo's writing.

Linda LeGarde Grover is a member of Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe and a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Grover is also a writer of award-winning prose, poetry and essays and she has a new book coming out in the fall titled “Gitchi Gami Hearts: Stories and Histories of Misaabekong.”

Mary Swander is a former Poet Laureate of Iowa, a playwright and author and the executive director and founder of AgArts. She also hosts the podcast "AgArts from Horse and Buggy Land."


  • Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate, musician
  • Linda LeGarde Grover, professor of American Indian Studies, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Mary Swander, former poet laureate of Iowa, executive director and founder of AgArts
Talk of Iowa Book ClubBooks & Readingpoetry
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River