A U.S. Poet Laureate in Conversation

Joy Harjo on When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry is a landmark collection celebrating the Indigenous peoples […]


A U.S. Poet Laureate in Conversation

Authors:Campbell McGrath, Joy Harjo


Joy Harjo on When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry is a landmark collection celebrating the Indigenous peoples of North America – the first poets of this country – whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize-winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a 17th-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahonso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.

Moderated by Campbell McGrath, Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems.

Sponsored by

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath is the author of nine previous books. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been published in publications such as New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, the Paris Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and Ploughshares. His poetry is represented in dozens of anthologies. Deeply personal but also expansive in its imaginative scope, the collection Nouns & Verbs (Ecco) brings together thirty-five years of McGrath’s writing. He gives us startlingly inventive new poems while surveying his previous work—lyric poems, prose poems, and a personal epic, “An Odyssey of Appetite,” exploring America’s limitless material and spiritual hungers. Nothing is too large or small to remain untouched by McGrath’s voracious intellect and deep empathy as he investigates the enduring human experiences of love and loss. In a starred review, Booklist noted that “McGrath’s absorbing, amusing, and reflective traveling music entices us on the road yet again.”

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019, is the author of eight poetry collections, including the national bestseller An American Sunrise, and a memoir, Crazy Brave. LeAnne Howe is the author, most recently, of Savage Conversations. Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of Bright Raft in the Afterweather. Edited by Joy Harjo, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (W. W. Norton & Company) collects the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology. This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. The book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear.

Arthur Sze, National Book Award–winning author of Sight Lines, called this anthology “revelatory and stunning.… It shows the remarkable strength and diversity of Native poetry, which vitalizes all of American poetry. It is essential reading.”

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