Joy Harjo, the first Native poet to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate, has championed the voices of Native peoples past and present. Her signature laureate project gathers the work of contemporary Native poets into a national, fully digital map of story, sound, and space, celebrating their vital and unequivocal contributions to American poetry.
This companion anthology features each poem and poet from the project—including Natalie Diaz, Ray Young Bear, Craig Santos Perez, Sherwin Bitsui, and Layli Long Soldier, among others—to offer readers a chance to hold the wealth of poems in their hands. The chosen poems reflect on the theme of place and displacement and circle the touchpoints of visibility, persistence, resistance, and acknowledgment. Each poem showcases, as Joy Harjo writes in her stirring introduction, “that heritage is a living thing, and there can be no heritage without land and the relationships that outline our kinship.” In this country, poetry is rooted in the more than five hundred living indigenous nations. Living Nations, Living Words is a representative offering.