An American Sunrise
by Joy Harjo
As the seasons begin to change, so too does the city of Malden. We are still adjusting to the “new normal” of a post-quarantine world. While the pain of the past two years is not quite over yet, we have learned new ways to come together and re-discover what it means to be a part of a community again. This past 2021 season, we digitized our programming and ran nearly all of our events virtually to abide by public health and safety guidelines. During brief periods of relative safety, we were able to put on safe and responsible in-person events as well. These past two seasons were marked by loss, uncertainty, isolation, and heaviness. Malden Reads is eager to help the community heal this upcoming season with a mix of digital and in-person events to accommodate the ebb and flow of the ongoing pandemic.
In the words of author Arundhati Roy: “Pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
As we reunite with neighbors, community members, and the city we love, we will find new ways to connect, communicate, and share our stories. In this spirit, Malden Reads has selected a collection of poems for the first time ever. Our 2022 season book selection is An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo. For those who don’t prefer poetry, we ask that you give this collection a chance. Poetry is meant to be heard, absorbed, and reflected on, and we are all thrilled for the opportunity to do so.
An American Sunrise deals with loss, memory, and the nature of joy and hope. The collection also explores human rights and socio-political equity across American cultures and communities (which is especially relevant to our diverse city of Malden), the values of various indigenous peoples, and the importance of our land and environment. As we step through the portal of the pandemic from the “before times,” we see this collection as a springboard for ideas and conversations that will help us heal and move forward as a community.
A little more about Harjo: she is the first Native American poet (a member of Muscogee Creek Nation) to serve as Poet Laureate for the Library of Congress and is currently enjoying her third term in this position. She is the author of nine books of poetry and two award-winning children’s books, as well as several screenplays and other works. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her poetry including from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, PEN USA, the National Endowment for the Arts,, and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Her poetry will be inscribed on a plaque on LUCY, a NASA spacecraft that is scheduled to launch in Fall 2021.
“An American Sunrise creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past.” – The Washington Post
Join us this upcoming season as we explore the world of poetry in all its many forms. We will dive into themes of environment, land, family, home, and the history and rights of indigenous cultures through our many events, activities, and campaigns for children and adults alike. We have an exciting and full roster of programming for 2022, including poetry slams, book and film discussions, public art initiatives, contests, readings, classes, and more. We invite you, your family, and your organization or business to meet up or “plug in” to explore these themes in new and creative ways. Stay tuned!