ECU receives a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant

East Carolina University is one of 61 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2021-22 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant. The grant project, directed by Dr. Marianne Montgomery, associate professor and chair of the Department of English, housed in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, will support a community reading program focused on U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s “An American Sunrise.”

Joy Harjo (Photo by Matika Wilbur)

“An American Sunrise” cover (Contributed photo)

“The Department of English is excited to bring our community together through reading. We’ll distribute 400 free copies of Harjo’s poetry collection and have lots of events for all ages, including book discussions, youth arts projects and a concert, all leading up to her reading at ECU on March 30, 2022,” Montgomery said. “Big Read – Greenville will educate our community about the history of southeastern Indigenous peoples, enrich our community through cultural events related to tribal nations, and advance ECU’s mission to serve the public and transform our region.”

Ann Eilers, NEA acting chairman, said, “For 15 years the NEA Big Read has supported opportunities for communities to come together around a book, creating a shared experience that encourages openness and conversations around issues central to our lives. We congratulate ECU for receiving an NEA Big Read grant and look forward to a wide variety of meaningful community events.”

The NEA Big Read offers a range of titles that reflect many 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.

National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant logo“We’re inspired by the creativity of this year’s NEA Big Read grantees, who are finding new ways to bring people together after a challenging year,” said Torrie Allen, president and chief executive officer of Arts Midwest. “We are proud to support these organizations and communities as they explore the richness and diversity of American history and culture together through reading.”

Programming partners for ECU’s NEA Big Read – Greenville include Sheppard Memorial Library, the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences Whichard Distinguished Professorship, Down East Flick Fest, Pitt County Council on Aging, ECU’s Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, the East Carolina Native American Organization and the ECU School of Music.

For additional information about Big Read – Greenville, and to stay up to date on a complete list of events, visit ECU’s Big Read website. Questions may be directed to Montgomery at or 252-328-6687.