NEA Big Read

The Lewis & Clark Library is a recipient of a grant for $20,000 to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read in Lewis & Clark county in November 2021. 


Our NEA Big Read will explore U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo's book, An American Sunrise


As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Lewis & Clark county, all our programming for the NEA Big Read will be virtual only. Zoom links and registration for each program is listed below. 


PARTNERS

Lewis & Clark Library Foundation

Helena College

Helena Indian Alliance

Montana Historical Society

Helena Public Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3

KICKOFF

When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through: Celebrating Native Nations Poetry

Wednesday, November 3 at 7 PM

Register in advance for this webinar: https://tinyurl.com/72p45pts  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Poets Jennifer Elise Foerster, Mandy Smoker Broaddus (Co-Poet Laureate for Montana) and Heather Cahoon read from their own works as well as the anthology When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through for our NEA Big Read kickoff.

WORKSHOPS

Assonikinakii Cowl Knit-A-Long 

Meeting Dates: November 7, 14, 21, and 28 at 2 PM

Register in advance for this workshop: https://tinyurl.com/53jbt72c After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Join us in celebrating the Big Read with a month-long knit-a-long. We'll be knitting the Assonikinakii Cowl available from Sisters United in Great Falls. 

"Farmer's Daughter Fibers first design, Assookinakii (ass-s-oo-kin-uh-k-EE) means “healer” in the Blackfeet language. A big part of SU is embracing the healing journey. This pattern is meant you to let go of your worries, stress, and tension to enjoy a simple but engaging pattern. Through knitting we mend what troubles our hearts." -Sisters United website.

We will meet virtually every Sunday in November from 2-3:30 p.m. to knit, converse, and answer questions. Please sign up for this program by October 20 to ensure pattern availability. 


Poetry Workshop with Melissa Kwasny (Co-Poet Laureate for Montana) 

Saturday, November 13 from 2-4 PM

Register in advance for this workshop: https://tinyurl.com/bb9883c  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another,” Robert Frost says in his essay “Education by Poetry. “Education by poetry is education by metaphor.” In this generative workshop, we will explore forms of figurative language that can add surprise and depth to your writing as well as imaginative play to your daily life. Through in-class writing prompts and the sharing of innovative examples by contemporary poets, participants will come away with an assortment of writing tools as well as the start of a handful of new poems. 

 About the presenter: Melissa Kwasny is the author of six books of poetry, including Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today (University of Washington Press); Pictograph; The Nine Sense; and Reading Novalis in Montana (all from Milkweed Editions), as well as a collection of essays Earth Recitals: Essays on Image and Vision. Her first full length nonfiction book Putting on the Dog: The Animal Origins of What We Wear, which explores the cultural, labor, and environmental histories of clothing materials provided by animals, appeared in spring 2019. She is also the editor of two anthologies: I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poets in Defense of Global Human Rights and Toward the Open Field: Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800-1950. She currently shares the position of Montana Poet Laureate with M.L. Smoker.

 

LECTURES

Storying and Living our Relations with Native Food Systems with Marissa Spang (Esevona’e) M.Ed.

Saturday, November 6 at 1 PM

Register in advance for this webinar: https://tinyurl.com/jtsf6jhx  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

This presentation will discuss Native Food Systems of Montana (primarily Northern Cheyenne and Crow) through a two-pronged approach of Indigenous story/theory and lived/applied Indigenous knowledge. It is the goal of this presentation to not only provide a larger, storied understanding of Native food relatives, but to also offer some practical methods or skills for how to live in to or practice a kinship-based relationship with Native food relatives. This presentation is for all knowledge levels.

About the presenter: Marissa Spang (Esevona’e), M.Ed., descends from Chief Morning Star through her ke’eehe (Cheyenne grandmother) and of Pretty Shield through her kaa’laa (Crow grandmother). She obtained her B.A. degree in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and her M.Ed. in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington. Her work actively attends to the storied and lived collective continuance of Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples - particularly in the context of everyday human repair, repatriation and practice of respectful relations with the natural world by employing Indigenous sciences and ontologies, while finding ways to adapt/integrate Western science. Such an approach works and emerges directly with/in land - in so doing, a host of ecological relations are restored, as well as Indigenous peoples’ knowledges, their sense of self and active, self-determining presence on their territories as good relatives/scientists/citizens.


Living the Now in the Presence of the Past through Joy Harjo's An American Sunrise with Dorothea (Dottie) Susag

Tuesday, November 9 at 6:30 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/y9fxwfmf  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Learn about poetry in general, and our NEA Big Read selection, An American Sunrise, and the themes of inclusion, generational trauma and others that run through Joy Harjo’s poetry. About the presenter: 

About the presenter: Dorothea (Dottie) Susag is a retired Literature Arts teacher who taught for four years in Choteau and another twenty-one years in Simms, Montana. In 2005 she started working part time for OPI as a curriculum writer and expert in the implementation of “Indian Education for All” in Montana’s schools. Dottie put on workshops and conducted classes on Native American Literature for teachers in schools across the state. She was also a member of Humanities Montana’s speakers bureau, offering talks entitled “Introducing Montana Native American Literature” and “Keeping Family History Alive.”


 Race as a Colonial Concept with Laura Ferguson

Thursday, November 18 at 6:30 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/2nvbaxdk  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Using Harjo’s An American Sunrise as a jumping-off point, Laura Ferguson will discuss how the use of blood quantum to determine tribal enrollment status has eroded tribal sovereignty, fractured tribal communities, and impacted Native people’s identities.

About the presenter: Laura Ferguson, M.A. Native American Studies, has taught Native Studies and Native Literature and presently works as an editor at the Montana Historical Society. 

 

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

An American Sunrise with Joy Harjo

Monday, November 22 at 7 PM

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will join us virtually to read from and discuss her book, An American Sunrise.

 

Register in advance for this webinar: https://tinyurl.com/nms5kjct  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

 United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will be in conversation with Mandy Smoker Broaddus who is the Co-Poet Laureate of Montana. In 2019 Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, was appointed the 23rd US Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position. She has written nine books of poetry and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior which just came out in 2021. Harjo has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation for Lifetime Achievement. 


BOOK DISCUSSIONS 

Free and open to the public

Premier Book Group discusses An American Sunrise

Thursday, November 4 at 7 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/dxcftjvh After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Quincy Bjornberg and Samantha Vulles and Rachel Pichardo will lead the group together and discuss this year's NEA Big Read selection.


Book Discussion with Helena College 

Wednesday, November 17 at 12 PM 

In Person at the Helena College Library Learning Lab. 1115 N Roberts

 Quincy Bjornberg and Samantha Vulles and Rachel Pichardo will lead the group together and discuss this year's NEA Big Read selection. 


Book Discussion

Wednesday, November 17 at 6:30 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/zatd2zk7 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting


Book Discussion

Friday, November 19 at 1 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/936batwc After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

 Quincy Bjornberg and Samantha Vulles and Rachel Pichardo will lead the group together and discuss this year's NEA Big Read selection. 


YA4A discusses Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Tuesday, November 23 at 6:30 PM

Join the Zoom discussion here: https://tinyurl.com/daamr9mf No registration required.

Young Adult books for Adults book group is for adults who read young adult (YA) fiction. We’ll discuss our NEA Big Read companion read, Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. Copies available at the Lewis & Clark Library.

 

Book Discussion with the Montana Historical Society

Tuesday, November 30 at 12 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: https://tinyurl.com/5h8n7fdd After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Quincy Bjornberg and Samantha Vulles and Rachel Pichardo will lead the group together and discuss this year's NEA Big Read selection.

 

COMPANION READS

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith for our Little Read

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell for our Middle Read

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith for our Teen Read


Pick up a copy of the book at any Lewis & Clark Library location after October 12, 2021, or check out the ebook or audiobook through MontanaLibrary2Go.  


Please adhere to Social Distancing protocols and remember that masks are encouraged when visiting any Branch of the Lewis & Clark Library.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.