The Patagonia Public Library and Patagonia Creative Arts Association (PCAA) have been selected to receive a 2021-2022 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read grant. The $5,350.00 grant awarded to Patagonia supports a host of programs and events planned over the next few months, all inspired by “An American Sunrise” by Joy Harjo. Harjo, who serves as Poet Laureate for the United States, is a Native American poet, writer, musician, singer, and activist. 

Local programs include a youth poetry slam, a student poetry contest, book discussions, art and ecology workshops, an Arizona Humanities speaker series, local artist showcases, films and more, which will be taking place at venues all around Patagonia. Project partners include the Patagonia Regional Times, Borderlands Restoration Network, Friends of the Patagonia Library, PCAA, Patagonia Public Schools, the Patagonia Museum, KPUP and the Town of Patagonia.

“We’re really excited about these events,” Cassina Farley, Director of the Patagonia Creative Arts Association, said, “and we hope, by offering these programs, we are able to remind our friends and neighbors of all the great nonprofit resources available to them in our community.” 

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,700 NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit

*All events are in-person unless otherwise specified. Event dates, times, and locations may change due to COVID-19 protocols

October / November Calendar of Big Read Events 

December Events will be listed in the December issue of the PRT


NEA Big Read Kickoff: Art and Poetry Walk

October 2: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Patagonia Town Park

Join us for a walk in the park! Using the library’s StoryWalk panels, view original artwork inspired by Joy Harjo’s “An American Sunrise” created by local artists. The walk begins at Town Hall (Patagonia’s historic Train Depot). 

NEA Big Read Book Discussion: “An American Sunrise”

October 13: 4:00 pm

Patagonia Public Library

In the first of three adult book discussions, Deb Goff will facilitate a meeting about Joy Harjo’s “An American Sunrise.” Discuss favorite poems from the book, ask questions, and delve deeper into the themes of the book.

NEA Big Read Indigenous Film Series: Barking Water

October 15: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Tin Shed Theater

“Barking Water,” written and directed by Sterlin Harjo, is a uniquely delicate and moving road movie that tells the story of a proud Native American attempting to reconnect with his estranged family. 

NEA Big Read Keynote Speaker: An Evening with Joy Harjo 


October 29: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Tin Shed Theater

*Tentative date and time* Join us on Zoom for a virtual discussion with 

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, who will read from and discuss her newest book of poetry. Zoom link will be posted. 


NEA Big Read Indigenous Film Series: “Gather”

November 3: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Tin Shed Theater

“Gather” follows the stories of natives on the frontlines of a growing movement to reconnect with spiritual and cultural identities that were devastated by genocide. An indigenous chef embarks on an ambitious project to reclaim ancient food ways on the Apache reservation; in South Dakota a gifted Lakota high school student, raised on a buffalo ranch, is proving her tribe’s native wisdom through her passion for science; and a group of young men of the Yurok tribe in Northern California are struggling to keep their culture alive and rehabilitate the habitat of their sacred salmon. All these stories combine to show how the reclaiming and recovery of ancient food ways is a way forward for Native Americans to bring back health and vitality to their people.

NEA Big Read Art Opening and Photography Exhibit 

November 5: 6:00 pm

The Patagonia Museum

4th generation Patagonians Glen “Gooch” Goodwin and Kayla Lewis-Simpson will present their photography highlighting the landscape, wildlife, people, and history of the area. This will be a three-week exhibition held at The Patagonia Museum and will be open for public viewing during museum open hours.

NEA Big Read StoryWalk and Book Discussion for Elementary Students: Fry Bread

November 9: 10:00 am *tentative time*

Patagonia Town Park

Laura and Cassina will lead participating elementary school classes on a walk through the park reading “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” by Kevin Noble Maillard. The event will culminate with a book discussion and fry bread demonstration at the Patagonia Creative Arts Association.

NEA Big Read AZ Speaks: Our River Stories: The Gila and the Salt

November 10: 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Patagonia Public Library

Join Zarco Guerrero for a series of stories that share the vibrant and tragic history of water and the River People, over a 2,000-year period beginning with the Toltec trade route that brought agriculture and corn to the Southwest.

NEA Big Read Author Reading and Documentary with Brian Jabas Smith

November 13: 7:00 pm

Tin Shed Theater

Tucson author and journalist Brian Jabas Smith will read selections from his new book of Tucson Salvage columns, accompanied by a new documentary directed by his wife Maggie Smith. Formerly a singer/songwriter, Smith is an award-winning journalist, first as a staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times and then as an editor at Detroit’s Metro Times, with work appearing in magazines, alt-weeklies, and literary journals. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

NEA Big Read Book Discussion: “Crazy Brave”

November 17: 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Patagonia Library

The second of three adult book discussions, Deb Goff will facilitate a discussion of Joy Harjo’s 2012 coming-of-age memoir, “Crazy Brave.

NEA Big Read Music and Storytelling with Randy Granger

November 20: 7:00 pm

Tin Shed Theater

Native American flute player and storyteller, Randy Granger, will present a program of flute music and storytelling. Granger is a native of New Mexico, a professional musician and specializes in Native American tales and creation stories often interweaving flute and drum within the stories. He is an award-winning recording artist, instructor, spiritual teacher, actor who performs and headlines around the country in concerts and at festivals. His music is heard on NPR, Hearts of Space, PBS, Pandora, Spotify, and radio stations around the world. He is of Mayan/Apache ancestry.