Why She Writes - An Afternoon Chat with Joy Harjo, Internationally Renowned Performer, Writer and Poet of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Presented on: Thursday, November 16th at 4:00 PM EST



Video not loading or do you see a “Video Unavailable” error after the talk is supposed to start? Try reloading the page! We are using YouTube Live to stream this event so if YouTube is blocked on your computer or browser, you may need to try a different device or different browser to watch.




Resources

  • Catching the Light
    In this lyrical meditation about the why of writing poetry, Joy Harjo reflects on significant points of illumination, experience, and questioning from her fifty years as a poet. Comprised of intimate vignettes that take us through the author's life journey as a youth in the late 1960s, a single mother, and a champion of Native American culture, this book offers a fresh understanding of how poetry functions as an expression of purpose, spirit, community, and memory.
  • An American Sunrise
    A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land. In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise , Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest―and most complicated―poets” ( Los Angeles Review of Books ), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.


View Upcoming Events View Past Event Recordings

United States Poet Laureate and winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets Leadership Award, Joy Harjo, joins us for a chat about her most recent memoir, Catching the Light and to discuss her rewarding lifetime as a writer and poet. 

In Catching the Light, Harjo examines the power of words and how poetry summons us toward justice and healing.

In this lyrical meditation about the why of writing poetry, Harjo reflects on significant points of illumination, experience, and questioning from her fifty years as a poet. Comprised of intimate vignettes that take us through the author’s life journey as a youth in the late 1960s, a single mother, and a champion of Native nations, this book offers a fresh understanding of how poetry functions as an expression of purpose, spirit, community, and memory.

Harjo insists the most meaningful poetry is birthed through cracks in history from what is broken and unseen. At the crossroads of this brokenness, she calls us to watch and listen for the songs of justice for all those America has denied. This is an homage to the power of words to defy erasure—to inscribe the story, again and again, of who we have been, who we are, and who we can be.

About the Author: In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position and only the second person to serve three terms in the role. Harjo’s nine books of poetry include Weaving Sundown in a Scarlett Light, An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. She is also the author of two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, which invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. She has edited several anthologies of Native American writing including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, and Living Nations, Living Words, the companion anthology to her signature poet laureate project. Her many writing awards include the 2022 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and is artist-in-residence for the Bob Dylan Center. A renowned musician, Harjo performs with her saxophone nationally and internationally; her most recent album is I Pray For My Enemies. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


The views expressed by presenters are their own and their appearance in a program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Greene County Public Library.