The Big Read
National Endowment for the Arts Announces BIG READ Grant to AGAR
The National Endowment of the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest, has announced that Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc. Inc. (AGAR) has been awarded a BIG READ grant to support the Amherst community in reading An American Sunrise, by Joy Harjo, poet laureate of the United States. AGAR’s eight community partners for this project include the Amherst County Public Library, the Amherst County Museum and Historical Society and the Amherst County Public Schools, the Monacan Nation Cultural Foundation, the Amherst Woman’s Club, the Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living, Central Virginia Community College, and Sweet Briar College. Of the 61 grants announced for 2021-2022, AGAR is the only organization in Virginia to receive an award,
Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Tribe who lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has written 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. 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 Poet Laureate Project. Joy Harjo is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and the Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. She holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship.
AGAR has ordered and received 200 copies of An American Sunrise, which will be available through AGAR and partners by September 1, 2021, including the circulation department of the Amherst Public Library. AGAR has also ordered audio CD books of An American Sunrise (as read by Harjo) and copies of companion book Crazy Brave by Harjo, as
well as two books of Native
American poetry edited by Harjo.
Two companion books by the late Monancan poet and historian
Karenne Wood, "Weaving the Boundary" and Markings on Earth" will also be available through the libraries of Amherst County Public Library (Amherst and Madison Heights Branches), Amherst County High School, the Amherst County Museum, Central Virginia Community College, and Sweet Briar College.
AGAR’s and partners’ BIG READ AMHERST COUNTY, VIRGINIA events, including two virtual talks by Harjo on her work and on Native American poetry, will take place in March, 2022. Harjo's talkd will be, virtually, on March 14th at Sweet Briar's "1948 Theater"at 4 pm and at The Monacan Tribe's Cultural Foundation Community Room, 111 Highview Drive, Madison Heights, VA at 7 pm. Amherst County High School's 11th grade English Classes, Monacan Cultural FOundation, Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living Congregate Nutrition Programs, CVCC's and Sweet Briar's Libertaure programs, AWC's two and two additional independent book clubs will also be sponsoring book discussions on An American Sunrise. Harjo's virtual appearances will be free of charge and will remain uploaded for at least two weeks for people to watch. Exhibits and panel discussions about Native American poetry, Karenne Wood and Joy Harjo will take place at the Amherst County Museum in March, and will travel. For more information, or to volunteer, please call AGAR at
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts that is administered by Arts Midwest. AGAR has produced two previous Big Read programs, one about The Poetry of Emily Dickinson and the other on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God.
In reporting of the Big Read grant announcement in their June 11, 2021 newsletter, the Virginia Commission for the Arts said “Congratulations to the staff of AGAR and to the Amherst Community!”