Credit: Courtesy

Each year, Santa Barbara Public Library selects a book for Santa Barbara Reads with the intention that it will be widely read and discussed in the community. Our goal is to broaden horizons, consider the world from another’s perspective, and make connections with one another. We invite all members of the community to explore humanity through stories. 

This year’s title is An American Sunrise, a collection of poetry by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. These poems explore Indigenous pasts, presents, and potential futures in the U.S. and prompt readers to unpack the impact of America’s colonial history. These conversations are particularly relevant in Santa Barbara, where the city’s heart stands in the shadow of the “Queen of the Missions” and streets named for Spanish Colonizers intersect with those bearing Chumash names.

Harjo steeps her poems in the history of her ancestral lands and culture. They are both profoundly personal and expansively mythic in scope. Harjo invites us to remember, and to reckon with, the past.

Free copies of An American Sunrise will be available from Santa Barbara Public Library beginning Saturday, November 6, at 3 p.m. That’s when the library will kick off Santa Barbara Reads with a Poetry Walk, featuring poems written in response to An American Sunrise by local poets. Join the Indy Book Club in discussing An American Sunrise Wednesday, December 1, at 6 p.m. at Municipal Winemakers. View the full schedule of events related events at

Santa Barbara Reads is funded through the annual support of the Santa Barbara Public Library Foundation. NEA Big Read: Santa Barbara Reads 2021 is also supported by an NEA Big Read grant, a National Endowment for the Arts program in partnership with Arts Midwest. 

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