The Big Read 2021

About the Big Read at FCC

An American Sunrise poems by Joy Harjo Poet Laureate of the United StatesFresno City College recently received a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read initiative.  The Big Read project brings communities together around the shared activity of reading and discussing a book. FCC has collaborated with the Fresno County Public Library, FCC Art Space Gallery, and the SCCCD Foundation to make this event possible. This year’s Big Read focuses on the book, An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, the current US Poet Laureate and the first Native American to receive this achievement.

The kick-off will be on March 4 and finale with Joy Harjo will be on April 24, 2021. 

Our selection of Joy Harjo’s book, An American Sunrise, seeks to provide inspiration for the formation and reclamation of voice by Native Americans and other marginalized communities in California’s Central Valley. Our Big Read project will highlight Native American issues by engaging local cultural communities as both audience and participants in a series of book discussions, dance, music, readings, storytelling, and visual arts activities centered on the text.

About the book

"In this stunning collection, Joy Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where the Mvskoke people, including her own ancestors, were forcibly displaced. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the Native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings." (from the publisher)

 

Schedule of Events

Schedule
Date & Time Event

Thu, March 4, 12:00 pm

Kick-Off: Community Voices - A Celebration of An American Sunrise

The Big Read Kick-Off will feature readings from An American Sunrise and discussion about the book, poetry, and the position of poet laureates by an expert panel of local artists. A land acknowledgement will precede the panel.

Panelists:

  • Mr. Juan Felipe Herrera, 21st Poet Laureate of the United States
  • Ms. Marisol Baca, current Fresno Poet Laureate and FCC instructor
  • Mr. Lee Herrick, previous Fresno Poet Laureate and FCC instructor
  • Ms. Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo (Kashia Pomo, Karuk and Yurok), an advanced student in the MFA Program at CSU-Fresno.

A link to join the Kick-off will be made available here. Please check back soon.

March 4 –April 22

Book discussions of An American Sunrise.

Book discussions will be hosted by FCC and the Fresno County Public Library. Discussions will be held on Zoom. Visit the Book Discussions tab for days, times, and links to join a discussion group.

If you would like to request a free book, please complete this request form.

March 11 - April 30

Virtual Art Exhibition: “All Words Have Roots Here”

All Words Have Roots Here is a group exhibition that draws connections between visual art, language, cultural expression, and ecology, expanding the reach of  “An American Sunrise” to explore its themes of loss, memory, time, land, and return through art, cultural materials, and poetry by Native American artists indigenous to and those living in California. The phrase all words have roots here is a line from Joy Harjo’s poem “Break My Heart.” Exhibition hosted by FCC’s Art Space Gallery and online.

Thu, March 11,
7:00 pm

Tommy Orange, author of There There

Tommy Orange is an American novelist and a writer from Oakland, California. His first book There There was one of the finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize. Orange was also the recipient of a 2019 American Book Award. Orange is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations of Oklahoma. This event is part of the Reedley College Literary Arts Speakers Series. It is free and open to the public. For questions, please contact deborah.lyons@reedleycollege.edu.

Zoom link to join

Fri, April 16, 7:00 pm 

Fri, April 23, 7:00 pm

Documentary Screening: “Sharing Cultures: Central Valley Storytelling”

Short films created by FCC visual anthropology students, Native and Indigenous students, and community members will be hosted by CMAC (Community Media Access Collaborative) on two nights.

Ways to watch: Comcast Xfinity Ch. 94, AT&T U-Verse Ch. 99, Cablecast app on Roku or Apple TV; or via the livestream.

A link to the livestream will be made available here. Please check back soon.

Sat, April 17, 10:00 am

Virtual Dance & Music Event: “Shaking of Shells, the Drumming of Feet” via Facebook Live and YouTube

Local Native American artists will demonstrate how dance and musical traditions evolved and remain a vital part of the culture today. These performances, grounded by themes from Joy Harjo’s book as it relates to the significance of dance to Native American communities, will serve as educational sessions led by community members versed in the traditions of dance and music.

A link to join this event will be made available here. Please check back soon.

Sat, April 24

Land, memory, sadness, roots, return

This breakout session, led by Fresno Poet Laureate Marisol Baca, invites young Native American poets and writers to share their work and participate in a Q&A with Baca and other published poets.

Sat, April 24

Virtual Keynote Speaker: Joy Harjo

harjo headshotJoy Harjo will keynote the Big Read program as our final event.

A link to register for this event will be available here. Please check back soon.

Image © Shawn Miller

Book Discussions

Request a free copy of An American Sunrise

FCC Books Discussions Schedule
Date & Time Meeting Information

Thu, March 4

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.

Thu, March 18

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.

Thu, March 25

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.

Thu, April 8

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.

Thu, April 15

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.

Thu, April 22

Book discussions hosted by FCC faculty, staff, and students. Links and times will be made available soon.


Fresno County Public Library Books Discussions Schedule
Date & Time Meeting Information

Thu, March 11

Thursday, March 11 through Thursday, April 22, 4:00 pm with FCPL's Literacy Department

  • Please call the FCPL Literacy Department to register for this discussion group, (559) 600-9243

Sat, March 20, 2:00 pm

Hosted by the Woodward Park Library (link will be available soon)

Wed, March 24


6:00 pm - Hosted by the WoW Book club. Please RSVP by emailing the WoW! Library by March 23: WoWLibrary@fresnolibrary.org

7:00 pm - Hosted by the Woodward Park Library (link will be available soon)

Wed, April 21, 2:00 pm

Hosted by the WoW book club and Resource for Independence, Central Valley (RICV) (link will be available soon)

Thu, April 22

Hosted by the Tollberry Book Club (time and link will be available soon)

Virtual Art Exhibition

All Words Have Roots Here

Dates: March 11 - April 30, 2021

Installed in the Art Space Gallery and presented online. A link to view the exhibition will be made available soon.

All Words Have Roots Here is a group exhibition that draws connections between visual art, language, cultural expression, and ecology, expanding the reach of  “An American Sunrise” to explore its themes of loss, memory, time, land, and return through art, cultural materials, and poetry by Native American artists indigenous to and those living in California. The phrase all words have roots here is a line from Joy Harjo’s poem “Break My Heart.”

The exhibition is co-organized by Elena Harvey Collins, Art Space Gallery curator, and Dr. Leece Lee-Oliver (Blackfeet and Choctaw), Director of American Indian Studies and Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at CSU-Fresno. 

 

Keynote Speaker: Joy Harjo

Joy HarjoWe are excited to welcome Joy Harjo as the keynote for the Big Read program. Her address will be our final event on Saturday, April 24.

This virtual keynote event is free and open to the public. A link to register in advance will be available soon.

About Joy Harjo:

Writer, musician, and current Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. An American Sunrise—her eighth collection of poems—revisits the homeland from which her ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act. It is a “profound, brilliantly conceived song cycle, celebrating ancestors, present and future generations, historic endurance and fresh beginnings,” wrote critic Jane Ciabattari. “Rich and deeply engaging, An American Sunrise creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past” (Washington Post). Harjo’s many awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas; the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets; and two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. “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). “Joy Harjo is a giant-hearted, gorgeous, and glorious gift to the world," said author Pam Houston. "Her belief in art, in spirit, is so powerful, it can't help but spill over to us—lucky readers.” (From the NEA website)

Image © Matika Wilbur