(Claire Molle, photo WNCT)

GREENVILLE, North Carolina — East Carolina University will soon launch its National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program.

The program will be led by Dr. Marianne Montgomery, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Montgomery supports a community reading program centered on “An American Sunrise” by American poet Joy Harjo.

The free, public launch event will begin at 4 p.m. on February 15 at Five Points Plaza at the corner of 5th and Evans in Greenville. In the event of rain, the event will take place at the main branch of the Sheppard Memorial Library. Join ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers, Harriot College Dean Allison S. Danell, Montgomery, Waccamaw-Siouan Indian Tribe Tribal Chairperson Pamela Young-Jacobs, Haliwa Indian Tribe Executive Director and Tribal Administrator -Saponi of North Carolina Jamie K. Oxendine, Tammy Maynor, Acting Tribal Administrator of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and other community leaders present at the event.

The goal of NEA Big Read, in partnership with Arts Midwest, is to expand people’s understanding of the world, their communities, and themselves through the joy of sharing a good book. ECU and Greenville are one of 61 communities nationwide participating in the 2021-22 NEA Big Read. The launch event will include brief remarks from community leaders, a poem read by Young-Jacobs, a song performed by Oxendine, and the distribution of free copies of “An American Sunrise.”

“We are thrilled that ECU has received this grant to promote and celebrate reading in our community by distributing many free books,” Montgomery said. “’An American Sunrise’ is a wonderful book by the first Native American Poet Laureate, and Big Read events in February and March will offer readers the chance to learn more about Harjo’s poetry and the native lives and cultures of today.”

According to Montgomery, Big Read – Greenville also aims to educate the local community about the history of the Indigenous peoples of the Southeast, enrich the community through cultural events related to tribal nations, and advance ECU’s mission to serve. the public and to transform the region.

The community is invited to participate in a full schedule of free public events that will include book groups for all ages, a concert, film screenings and talks, and other creative programming, all leading up to a Harjo reading at ECU at 7 p.m. March 30 at the Black Box Theater in the Main Campus Student Center.

A total of 500 free copies of Harjo’s “An American Sunrise” will be distributed at the various events, as well as at the Sheppard Memorial Library, the Pitt County Council on Aging and the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center.

ECU’s NEA Big Read – Greenville programming partners include ECU’s Department of English and Gender Studies Program, Sheppard Memorial Library, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Whichard Distinguished Professorship , the ECU School of Music, Down East Flick Fest, Pitt County Council on Aging, ECU’s Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, Oakwood School, and East Carolina Native American Organization.

For more information about Big Read – Greenville and this event, contact Montgomery at [email protected] or 252-328-6041. Stay up to date on the full calendar of events by visiting ECUs Big Read website.