Ucross, the renowned artist residency program in northern Wyoming, will present the internationally acclaimed performer, musician and writer Joy Harjo in a free community craft discussion in partnership with Sheridan College and a ticketed evening of music and poetry at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center with Grammy Award-winning performer Larry Mitchell during the last weekend of February.
Harjo recently concluded her third term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, she was the first Native American to hold the post and the second poet laureate to be appointed a third term in the position’s history. Harjo first visited northern Wyoming 10 years ago for the Sundance Institute Playwrights and Composers Retreat at Ucross. She experienced three weeks of uninterrupted time and space to focus on the creative process on the residency program’s 20,000-acre ranch.
“The imagination finds refreshment in lands rich with plants and creatures of all kinds,” Harjo said of her residency. “Ucross is rich in spirit food.”
Ucross is partnering with Sheridan College to present a craft discussion with Harjo on Friday, Feb. 24, at noon. The artist will guide the audience through her process of writing, composing, and performing. The event, hosted in Sheridan College’s Whitney Center for the Arts, Rooms 234/235/236, will be free and open to the public, with no advance registration needed.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, Harjo will head to the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center, accompanied by her longtime musical collaborator, Larry Mitchell. Mitchell is a Grammy award-winning producer, engineer and performer who has toured the world playing guitar with well-known artists including Tracy Chapman, Billy Squier, Ric Ocasek and Miguel Bosé. In his original compositions, Mitchell skillfully weaves guitar textures that showcase his virtuosity as a solo artist and ensemble player.
The evening will begin in the WYO Theater lobby at 6 p.m. with a VIP reception, featuring an artist meet-and-greet and refreshments. At 7:30 p.m., Harjo will take the stage to perform music and poetry with Mitchell. General, student and VIP tickets are available at wyotheater.com.
“We’re thrilled to bring Joy Harjo, one of the nation’s most beloved and respected poets, to our region. This is a can’t-miss event,” said Ucross President William Belcher. “‘An Evening of Music and Poetry with Joy Harjo’ is also the kickoff to our 40th anniversary year, which will include many community-oriented events and activities. It’s an honor to celebrate this moment with our community, and we are grateful to do so with an artist as inspiring and accomplished as Joy Harjo.”
Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise; several plays and children’s books; and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums, including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and the first Artist-in-Residence for Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Center. Harjo lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.