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Joy Harjo, the John C. Hodges Chair of Excellence in English, has been appointed to the Board of Chancellors for the Academy of American Poets.

In this position, Harjo joins a list of some of the country’s most established poets, including W.H. Auden, Adrienne Rich, John Ashbery, and Elizabeth Bishop. She is the first Native American poet to be named a chancellor since the board was first formed in 1946.

Joy Harjo, an acclaimed poet, author, musician and a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor of English and Chair of Excellence.
Joy Harjo, an acclaimed poet, author, musician and a University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professor of English and Chair of Excellence.

“It’s quite an honor,” Harjo said. “It will be like being the caretaker of poetry and the poets.”

As a chancellor, Harjo will serve as a consultant on artistic matters such as selecting recipients for the Wallace Stevens Award, which she won in 2015,and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. She also will help lead a Poets Emergency Fund that supports fellow poets going through extreme crises, help with student programs,and serve as an ambassador of poetry to the world.

Marilyn Chin, who was named a chancellor in 2018, called Harjo an iconic and beloved multigenre artist whose poetry is “a timeless gift to the world.”

“Her poetry, prose, and music have delighted, informed, and tantalized an international audience for over four decades,” Chin said in a press release from the academy.

The Academy of American Poets was founded by Marie Bullock in 1934 in New York City and officially became a nonprofit organization in 1936. It is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization that continuously supports and appreciates poets and their work. The organization has connected millions of poets throughout three generations through poets.org, a website that shares poems and promotes new and upcoming poets.

Harjo has been at UT for three years.

CONTACT:

Brian Canever (865-974-0937, bcanever@utk.edu)

Courtney Cox (865-974-2225, ccox90@vols.utk.edu)