Teatro Yerbabruja will kick off its 7-month NEA BIG READ LONG ISLAND Project on Monday October 11, starting at 1 PM, at its home in the historic Second Avenue Firehouse, 17 Second Avenue, in downtown Bay Shore.
The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a NEA BIG READ grant to Teatro Yerbabruja, one of 61
such grants awarded nationally and the only one awarded for a Long Island project. The NEA BIG
READ grant supports a Long Island communities reading program that focuses on the book selected
from among the five offered by NEA. Teatro Yerbabruja’s NEA BIG READ LONG ISLAND will focus
on An American Sunrise, a collection of poems by Joy Harjo, the current, and first, indigenous United
States Poet Laureate. Ms. Harjo is a member of the Creek/Muscogee Nation, and will do a day-long
residency on April 8, 2022 as part of the program.
NEA BIG READ LONG ISLAND will include dozens of free events throughout Suffolk County, at
public libraries, cultural and community organizations, including in Long Island’s Shinnecock and
Montaukett Nations. Those events range from a reading and discussion of Ms. Harjo’s An American
Sunrise to readings and discussions of her and other authors’ related works targeted at adult and younger
audiences, as well as theme-related visual art exhibits and the various performing arts. Ms. Harjo will be
the keynote speaker at Bay Shore High School’s Ethnic Pen Conference on April 8 and will give a
public reading on the Shinnecock Reservation that evening.
“We are an organization that envisions its many visual and performing arts events as a means of
achieving constructive social and economic change in the heavily Latino-populated Long Island
communities that we generally serve, and it would have been easy simply to choose the offered book by
a Latina author,” said Margarita Espada, Teatro Yerbabruja’s Founder and Executive-Artistic Director.
“But it was clear that we had to accept the challenge of focusing on a different marginalized population
of color, so that interested Long Islanders could better explore the similarities and differences between
and within those populations.”
The program on October 11 will include an art show focused on indigenous artists, poetry reading and
conversations about decolonization and indigenous people in America and around the world.