Las Cruces Museum of Art, Branigan Cultural Center, and The Thomas Branigan Library System are pleased to announce our next Big Read brought to you by The National Endowment of the Arts.

We will be reading An American Sunrise by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. 

The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress or United States Poet Laureate is the official poet of the United States. During their term, the poet laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry is appointed annually by the librarian of the United States Congress and serves from October to May. 

Free copies of An American Sunrise will be available at the Thomas Branigan Library Branch and The Branigan Cultural Center throughout October and November. Digital Copies and Audio copies will be available for checkout. 

Our goal is to come together to discuss Joy Harjo’s work and its greater meaning for our community.  An American Sunrise focuses on the modern indigenous person experiences expressed in verse. We hope to use the following program and book discussions to foster healing, frank conversations, and dynamic community reading programs. 

 Children’s and Teen programs will highlight We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kine. Programs are available for all ages, ranging from community art projects, children’s book walks, book discussions, and poetry events.

Events will include Book reading and Q &A with The Removed author and NMSU Professor Brandon Hobson, Teen poetry works with local Poet Gris Munoz, and A Workshop on intergenerational trauma and healing by Tewa Women United. Our big Read will culminate in a poetry reading and book signing by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. 

Branigan Library and Branigan Cultural Center will be partnering with several organizations, including the Foundation for Las Cruces Museums, Unity Among Nations Youth Council, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo’s Tribal Empowerment Office, and the American Indian Program and Creative Writing Departments at New Mexico State University in offering these programs. 

Thomas Branigan Memorial Library and the Branigan Cultural Center are 2 of 61 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2021-2022 NEA Big Read grant. A grant of $17,000 will support a community reading program focusing on Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise in October and November of 2021. The National Endowment for the Arts initiative, in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read, broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

The NEA Big Read offers various titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, aiming to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

Elizabeth Puckett 

Outreach and Marketing Librarian 575-528-4012 


The SUCCESS Partnership is a prenatal-to-career readiness education initiative founded in 2013. The collaborative is supported by a diverse cross-sector group comprised of parents, education professionals, nonprofit organizations, businesses, regional partners, and community leaders committed to improving educational outcomes in Dona Ana County. The primary support organizations for the SUCCESS Partnership collaborative are Ngage New Mexico, the Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico, La Clinica de Familia Family Services, and the NMSU Center for Community Analysis.

For more information, or if you would like to be involved, please contact Sommer Mitchell, SUCCESS Partnership Communications Coordinator, at