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At age 16, Reginald Dwayne Betts was tried and convicted as an adult for carjacking. Since his release at age 24, Betts has become an attorney, a doctoral candidate at Yale Law School, an award-winning poet, essayist, and memoirist, and an advocate for juvenile justice reform. His most recent...
“Don't worry about what a poem means,” says poet Joy Harjo. “Do you ask what a song means before you listen? Just listen.” Harjo’s book of selected poems, How We Became Human , is one of the recent additions to the NEA Big Read library , along with two other books of poetry: Citizen by Claudia...
In the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Thanksgiving holiday, we offer you a moment (well, six moments, actually) of reflection on gratitude. Click on the poem's title to read the full text. "Give praise with the immense and peaceful sigh/ Of the wind in the pinewoods,/ At night give praise...
Goldie Goldbloom—NEA Creative Writing Fellow and new NEA Big Read author—grew up in Western Australia. On her family farm in the country’s rural outback, her grandparents hosted Italian prisoners of war during World War II, which inspired Goldbloom to write her award-winning novel, The Paperbark...
"Art busts its butt. It's not all about inspiration and bursts of genius. There aren't little cobbler fairies who come in the middle of the night and write your stories/novels for you." — Siobhan Fallon Read our interview with Siobhan Fallon on war stories and the women who write them here .
Nearly 30 years ago Tim O'Brien published his novel The Things They Carried , about the experience of being a foot soldier in the Vietnam War. As described for the NEA Big Read library, The Things They Carried is "part memoir, part fiction and O'Brien—the original master of truthiness—wishes you...
Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts assembles a committee of readers around the country to discuss and recommend books to add to the NEA Big Read library . Who are these readers? Booklovers for sure, but also community organizers—such as prior NEA Big Read grantees—who can speak to the...
"I like to think we’re all striving for that moment when we’ve gotten it right enough that we, as artists, stop working and the art, itself, starts instead.” — Meg Day A 2013 NEA Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry, Meg Day is not only a talented poet, but a fiery arts educator and an activist. Her...
"Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that." — Mary Oliver Has your high school signed up for Poetry Out Loud yet? Visit poetryoutloud.org to find out how your school can participate in this dynamic poetry...
"Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book." — John Green Visit our Facebook page and let us know what book you just can't live...

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