January 30, 2020

Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing presents a reading by Joy Harjo and Sheila Heti

On February 12, the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing will present a reading by 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, memoirist and musician Joy Harjo and fiction writer, playwright, and journalist Sheila Heti as a continuation of its yearlong 80th anniversary celebration. The reading is the next event in the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series and begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio in the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus. The reading is free and open to the public.

joy in red shirt by brick wall

23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, memoirist and musician Joy Harjo . Photo by Matika Wilbur

In June 2019, Joy Harjo was named by the Librarian of Congress as the 23rd U.S. poet laureate, the first Native American poet to serve in the position. Harjo’s nine books of poetry include An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. Harjo’s memoir Crazy Brave won several awards, including the PEN USA Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction and the American Book Award. She is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation for Lifetime Achievement; the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets for proven mastery in the art of poetry; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; and a United States Artist Fellowship. In 2014 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. A renowned musician, Harjo performs with her saxophone nationally and internationally, solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. She has five award-winning CDs of music including the award-winning album Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears and Winding Through the Milky Way, which won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. This past fall her latest book of poetry, An American Sunrise, was published. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

sheila in green blouse with tie at neck

Fiction writer, playwright, and journalist Sheila Heti. Photo by Steph Martyniuk

Sheila Heti is the author of eight books of fiction and non-fiction, including the novels Ticknor, Motherhood, and How Should a Person Be? and the story collection, The Middle Stories. She was named one of “The New Vanguard” by The New York Times book critics, a list of fifteen women writers from around the world who are “shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.” Her most recent novel, Motherhood, was chosen by the book critics at The New York Times as one of their top books of 2018, and New York magazine chose it as their top book of the year. Her novel, How Should a Person Be? was named one of the 12 “New Classics of the 21st century” by Vulture. It was a New York Times Notable Book, a best book of the year in The New Yorker, and was cited by Time Magazine as “one of the most talked-about books of the year.” Her play, All Our Happy Days are Stupid, had sold-out runs at The Kitchen in New York and Videofag in Toronto. She is currently developing a new play called The Dug Out. Heti is the former interviews editor of The Believer magazine and has conducted many long-form print interviews with writers and artists, including Joan Didion, Elena Ferrante, Agnes Varda, Dave Hickey and John Currin. Her fiction and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Bookforum, n+1, Granta, The London Review of Books, and elsewhere. She lives in Toronto.

The Lewis Center’s Program in Creative Writing annually presents the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, which provides an opportunity for students, as well as all in the greater Princeton region, to hear and meet the best contemporary writers. The series is organized by Lecturer in Creative Writing and award-winning poet Michael Dickman. All readings are at 7:30 p.m. in venues in the Lewis Arts complex and are free and open to the public. Remaining readings scheduled in the 2019-2020 series include:

  • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Yoko Tawada on March 4
  • Kaitlyn Greenidge, Helen Oyeyemi, and Nicole Sealey on April 15

The series will also include a reading of new work on April 30 by selected students in Creative Writing courses, as well as readings on May 5 and 6 by seniors in the Program from the novels, collections of short stories, poems or translations, or screenplays written as their senior theses.

To learn more about this event, the Program in Creative Writing, and the more than 100 other performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, and lectures presented each year by the Lewis Center, most of them free, visit

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