MSU’s writer-in-residence brings award-winning poetry to campus

Award-winning poet and musician Joy Harjo of the Myskoke (Creek) Nation will present a public reading Feb. 27 as part of Mississippi State’s Institute for the Humanities Writer-in-Residence program. (Photo submitted/© Karen Kuehn)

Contact: Tyler Powell

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation, award-winning poet and musician Joy Harjo will present a public reading Feb. 27 at Mississippi State University.

Serving as MSU’s Institute for the Humanities Writer-in-Residence for the spring semester, Harjo will read selections from her publications at the 7:30 p.m. free event. Held in the Turner A. Wingo Auditorium of Old Main Academic Center, her presentation is open to the public. In addition to the Institute for the Humanities, sponsors include the Department of English, Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Harjo is author of eight books of poetry and a memoir. Her 2013 work, “Crazy Brave, A Memoir,” won a PEN America Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Harjo’s 2015 collection of published poems, “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,” was shortlisted for the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize and included on the American Library Association’s 2016 notable books list.

“The Writer-in-Residence program is a continuing effort to put students in contact with influential writers from across the nation,” said program organizer Catherine Pierce, MSU English professor and co-director of MSU’s creative writing program. “This program is an invaluable opportunity for Mississippi State students to have meaningful, sustained conversations about the writing life with luminaries in the field of creative writing.”

“Joy Harjo’s important and wholly original work has had a tremendous influence on the world of poetry, and our students will deeply benefit from the opportunity not only to hear her read, but to talk with her and gain her insights on what it means to be a working writer,” Pierce said.

As writer-in-residence, Harjo will interact with members of the university and surrounding community during her extended visit, meeting with a poetry class, holding office hours with students and sharing meals with members of the MSU community. 

“The Institute for the Humanities has been partnering with the English department to bring a writer to campus for several years now, and they always prove to be enriching experiences for the students and broader public,” said Julia Osman, institute director. She credits the Mississippi Arts Commission for providing significant support for the writer-in-residence program. 

Harjo’s many writing awards include the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, Rasmuson United States Artist Fellowship and William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. 

An accomplished musician, Harjo won a 2009 Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year for her song, “Winding through the Milky Way.” She has released five award-winning albums of original music and currently performs internationally with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. She has performed her one-woman show, “Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light,” at the Wells Fargo Theater in Los Angeles, the Public Theater in New York and the La Jolla Playhouse as part of the Native Voices at the Autry. 

Harjo also is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. 

MSU’s Institute for the Humanities promotes research, scholarship and creative performances in the humanistic disciplines and raises their visibility, both within the university and the wider community. The institute’s activities include sponsorship of the distinguished lecture series, support for faculty research initiatives, and public outreach through scholarship and innovative teaching. 

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Institute for the Humanities can be found at or

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