Joy Harjo

Cindy Seip

Joy Harjo has published nine poetry collections, most recently An American Sunrise, and Crazy Brave: A Memoir, and edited When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry and Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry. She is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate. In Poet Warrior: A Memoir (W. W. Norton & Company), she invites readers to travel along her “poet-warrior” road. Harjo listens to ancestors and family stories, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, and the messengers of a changing earth – owls, resilient desert plants, and a smooth green snake curled up in surprise. Here, she celebrates the influences that shape her poetry, including Audre Lorde, N. Scott Momaday, Walt Whitman, Muscogee stomp dance call-and-response, and Navajo horse songs. Moving fluidly between prose, song, and poetry, Harjo grieves at the loss of her mother, reckons with the theft of her ancestral homeland, and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.