The Big Read 2019

The Big Read is a national initiative dedicated to supporting organizations across the country in developing community-wide programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. The Miami Book Fair has been part of The Big Read since its inception by the National Endowment for the Arts 13 years ago, and has brought cultural programming to thousands of South Floridians relating to a variety of titles, including Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, and Brother I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat, among other books.

Miami Book Fair celebrates How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001, which offers a look at the first 26 years of Joy Harjo’s expansive career, including her groundbreaking classic, She Had Some Horses. “To read the poetry of Joy Harjo is to hear the voice of the earth, to see the landscape of time and timelessness, and, most important, to get a glimpse of people who struggle to understand, to know themselves, and to survive” (Poetry Foundation).

“Don’t worry about what a poem means. Do you ask what a song means before you listen? Just listen.” — Joy Harjo

To open Joy Harjo’s How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001 (W.W. Norton, 2002) is to be immersed in the power of nature, spirituality, memory, violence, and the splintered history of America’s indigenous peoples. To read her poetry is to get drawn into the rhythms, sounds, and stories of Harjo’s Creek heritage. The collection offers a glimpse into the first quarter-century of Harjo’s career, and includes an introduction about the circumstances at play in her life when she wrote the poems. Drawing together “the brutalities of contemporary reservation life with the beauty and sensibility of Native American culture and mythology,” writes Publishers Weekly,the book shows “the remarkable progression of a writer determined to reconnect with her past and make sense of her present.” “I am driven to explore the depths of creation and the depths of meaning,” said Harjo. “Being native, female, a global citizen in these times is the root, even the palette” (Terrain).

Program activities from February 24 – March 31, 2019 that will focus on the themes addressed in How We Became Human.

Want to join The Big Read?
Miami Book Fair will give away copies of Joy Harjo’s How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001 throughout the month. Come to our Big Read events, like us on Facebook or Tweet us, and sign up for our newsletter.


Recommended Reading:

Upcoming Events

February 2019

Sunday, February 24 @ 1:00 pm
Everglades National Park: Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center
40001 State Hwy 9336, Homestead, FL 33034 United States

The Big Read Kickoff: Sundays in the Park with AIRIE

In partnership with AIRIE – Artists in Residence in the Everglades (https://airie.org/) Miccosukee native Betty Osceola along with AIRIE Fellow Cathy Byrd, and others, will discuss conservation efforts in the Florida Everglades, their effects on indigenous ways of life, and how to effectively communicate environmental concerns through the cultural arts. Fresh Art International will stream the discussion LIVE on the web on Jolt Radio. For more information about this event, visit  https://airie.org/category/events/ Free and open to the public Location: Everglades National Park – Ernest F.…

March 2019

Saturday, March 2 @ 9:00 am
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum
30290 Josie Billie Hwy, PMB 1003, Clewiston, FL 33440 United States

Big Read Field Trip to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum

Join us for an educational and immersive trip to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum in Clewiston, FL. There will be a guided tour of the museum including a 20-minute film and free time to explore the boardwalk which takes you through a natural cypress dome. The bus will leave from the front of The Freedom Tower at 600 Biscayne Blvd.  promptly at 9 a.m. and leave Clewiston to return at 4 p.m.. The cost is $20, payable in advance when you reserve your spot on the bus.…

Thursday, March 7 @ 8:00 pm
Books & Books – Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables , United States

Keynote Address: Joy Harjo, author of How We Became Human in conversation with Natalie Diaz

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Her seven books of poetry, which includes such well-known titles as How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses, have garnered many awards. These include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas; and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. …

All day event.
Friday, March 8
Various Locations

Poetry Workshops with High School Students

Award-winning poets Joy Harjo and Natalie Diaz will facilitate community poetry workshops for local high school students. They will each visit separate local high school classes, where each student in the workshop will receive a copy of either Joy Harjo’s How We Became Human or Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec.…

Thursday, March 21 @ 7:00 pm
Instituto Cultural de México en Miami
1399 SW 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33130 United States

El poeta zapoteco Esteban Ríos Cruz, ganador del Premio Nacional de Literatura Nezahualcóyotl 2018, presenta su poemario Xaniaa gueela´/Al pie de la noche.

En el marco del programa The Big Read de la Feria del Libro de Miami, el Programa de Autores Iberoamericanos presenta al poeta zapoteco Esteban Ríos Cruz, ganador del Premio Nacional de Literatura Nezahualcóyotl 2018. El autor dará a conocer su poemario Xaniaa gueela´/Al pie de la noche y conversará sobre la experiencia de escribir en una lengua originaria de México como un acto de orgullo de sus raíces indígenas y de reivindicación cultural de los pueblos aborígenes. Esteban Ríos Cruz (Asunción Ixtaltepec,…

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