ASHTABULA – County libraries are partnering as part of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read community reading program. Kent State University at Ashtabula will partner with the KSU Library, local libraries and others for programs focusing on poet laureate Joy Harjo’s “An American Sunrise” through May.

Kent State was one of 61 organizations nationwide to be awarded a 2021-22 NEA Big Read grant. The $20,000 grant supports the programs, events and activities offered by the partner institutions in northeast Ohio.

“An American Sunrise” is a book of poetry influenced and informed by Harjo’s tribal history and connection to the land of her Native American ancestors.

Two hundred years after their removal from that land, Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, returns to open a powerful dialogue with history, exploring family, grief, injustice, beauty and survival.

“Poetry has been said to provide an architecture for discussing topics that are difficult to put into words and Joy Harjo’s ‘An American Sunrise’ is a beautiful exploration of identity, trauma, grief and love,” said Beth Devore, associate lecturer in English at Kent State Ashtabula. “The NEA Big Read Northeast Ohio is an exciting opportunity to expand the role of poetry in our community and give us new tools for exploring our own identities and processing the events of the last year through writing workshops and our discussion of poetry.”

Locally, scheduled events and locations include:

• Nov. 1 (6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.) – NEA Big Read Book Discussion, Ashtabula County District Library;

• Nov. 6 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.) – Open Adult Art Lab Inspired by “An American Sunrise,” Ashtabula County District Library;

• Nov. 9 (4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.) – A Native American Story Time, Conneaut Public Library;

• Nov. 9 (6:30 p.m.) – Poetry Workshop on Repetition, Kent State University at Ashtabula Blue and Gold Room;

• Feb. 10 (6:30 p.m.) – “An American Sunrise” Book Discussion, Kent State University at Ashtabula Blue and Gold Room, and

• March 1 (6:30 p.m.) – Poetry Workshop on Prose Poetry, Kent State University at Ashtabula Main Hall Student Lounge.

Additional events may be added. For event details, registration information (when necessary) and an updated schedule, visit

For more information about Kent State University’s participation in the Big Read, visit

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