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Big Read Juneau event “A Most Powerful Song: Elevating Indigenous Voices” happening Thursday, Nov. 4

November 2, 2021 – FYI

“A Most Powerful Song: Elevating Indigenous Voices” is a Big Read Juneau online event taking place on Thursday, November 4, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. This NEA Big Read and UAS One Campus, One Book event continues a community celebration of Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise and all are welcome. Please register on Zoom. Big Read Juneau is a partnership between Juneau Public Libraries, Juneau-Douglas City Museum, UAS Egan Library, Perseverance Theater, and 49 Writers with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

During “A Most Powerful Song: Elevating Indigenous Voices,” Indigenous poets Vivian Faith PrescottMarie Tozier and X’unei Lance Twitchell will read from their work and discuss poetic lineage, the influence of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and the importance of increasing visibility of Indigenous people and poetry. Sol Neely, Cherokee Nation Citizen and Associate Professor of English at Heritage University will provide introductory remarks and moderate the conversation with participants and attendees. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Juneau Public Library and UAS Egan Library.

Vivian Faith Prescott lives and writes in Lingít Aaní on the land of the Shtax’heen Kwáan in Kaachxaana.áak’w, Wrangell, Alaska at her family’s fishcamp. She’s married with four grown children and two step-children. Her children are Raven of the T’akdeintaan/Snail House. She is adopted into the T’akdeintaan clan. She’s a grandmother and great-grandmother. She is of Sámi, Suomalainen, and Irish descent (among others). She is a member of the Pacific Sámi Searvi. She holds an MFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a MA in Cross Cultural Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Knowledge Systems from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also holds an interdisciplinary PhD in Cross Cultural Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is the author of 7 books of poetry and a collection of linked stories. Forthcoming in 2022 is her foodoir, “My Father’s Smokehouse” (West Margin Press) and a full-length poetry collection “Old Woman With Berries in Her Lap” from the University of Alaska Press’ Alaska Literary Series. Along with her daughter Vivian Mork Yéilk’, she co-hosts Planet Alaska Facebook page and is co-columnist at Planet Alaska, an award-winning column appearing in the Juneau Empire. She is a founding member of Blue Canoe Writers and a founding member of Community Roots, the first LGBTQIA group in Wrangell, Alaska. (Source: from the author)

Iñupiaq poet Marie Tozier earned an MFA from the low-residency program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of the poetry collection Open the Dark (2020), which illuminates elements of Iñupiaq life in northwestern Alaska. Tozier has also written for the Anchorage Daily News. She teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Northwest Campus. As a participant in the university’s Robert Wood Johnson Global Solutions Partnership, she traveled to Aotearoa (New Zealand) to study Maori education and culture. She has led sewing, quilting, knitting and qiviut processing, and writing classes. She lives in Nome, Alaska, with her family. (Source: Poetry Foundation)

Lance Twitchell carries the Tlingit names X̱ʼunei and Du Aaní Kawdinook, and the Haida name Ḵʼeijáakw. He lives in Juneau with his wife and bilingual children, and is from the Tlingit, Haida, and Yupʼik native nations. He speaks & studies the Tlingit language, and advocates for indigenous language revitalization. He is an Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast, has a Ph.D. in Hawaiian and Indigenous Language Revitalization from Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, and is a  Northwest Coast Artist, musician, author, and filmmaker. (Source: Troubled Raven)

Cherokee Citizen and scholar Sol Neely earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature from Purdue University and completed Cornell University’s School of Criticism and Theory. He also holds degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage in English and Philosophy. His specializations are in theory and cultural studies within literature and Native American studies.  In 2019, Neely walked the Trail of Tears with his father and daughter, which  provided an opportunity to “meditate on historical violence, transgenerational perseverance, memory, and repair.” He reflects on this experience in the essay, “The Trail Where They Cried: Displacement and Healing Across Generations”.  Dr. Neely was Associate Professor of English at UAS for X years where he coordinated the Honors Program and The Flying University, a prison-education program. He currently serves as Director of Composition and Associate Professor of English at Heritage University.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

For more information on “A Most Powerful Song: Elevating Indigenous Voices,” go to the Facebook event, or contact Jonas Lamb at [email protected].