I think this might be an M1-specific issue in conjunction with Monterey. First, as of buying this M1 running Big Sir, I could not change the "turn display off after" slider in the Battery system preferences panel. Although I can move the slider, navigating away from and back to the panel returns it to two minutes. That's actually only the background for the new Monterey issue I'm experiencing.
After the display turns off and resumes, whether that's from 2 minutes of inactivity or resuming from sleep, text edit fields where my focus was now are no longer responsive. I can VO-arrow away from the text area and back to it, interact with it, and still VO will not read the field or enter text in it. Usually, alt-tabbing away from the text editor and back again resolves the issue, but sometimes I've had to restart VoiceOver, and I've even had the entire computer seem to lock up, unable to get VO responsive again.
Since this happens after only two minutes of inactivity on my system, my shiny Mac is basically unfit for the simplest task of all: entering plain text.
Others experiencing one or both of these issues?
Also, when I need to interact with a security dialog to "press the lock to make changes" to a system control panel screen, the password field is not announced at all until I VO-arrow away from and back to it. I have a hunch this is a related issue, since it also concerns VO dropping focus.