32 pages 1 hour read

Joy Harjo

An American Sunrise

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2017

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Discussion Starters

1. In what words, phrases, or ideas are the past, the present, and the future represented in “An American Sunrise”? What might the poet be suggesting about the passage of time?

2. Music imagery repeats throughout “An American Sunrise.” What ideas and themes in the poem are developed through the music motif? How do the patterns of words and syllables create and sustain a rhythm in the poem? What other sound devices (like alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia) does the poet utilize in this work? What effect might these sound devices and the rhythm of the poem have on the reader?

3. What is the significance of the poem’s title? What emotions does the title initially suggest, and are these emotions upheld or rejected by the poem’s actual images and messages? Imagine you have the task of creating a subtitle or an entirely new title for the poem. Share your choice(s), rationale, and thought process in this endeavor.