An American Sunrise

An American Sunrise

by Joy Harjo
An American Sunrise

An American Sunrise

by Joy Harjo


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781324003861
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/13/2019
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 201,261
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine poetry collections and two memoirs, most recently Poet Warrior. The recipient of the 2023 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2023 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Prologue xv

Map of the Trail of Tears xvii

Break My Heart 3

My grandfather Monahwee 5

Exile of Memory 6

Granddaughters 20

The Fight 21

Directions to You 22

Seven Generations 25

In 1990 a congress 26

Weapons 27

The Story Wheel 28

Once I looked at the moon 29

Washing My Mother's Body 30

There is a map 34

Rising and Falling 35

The Road to Disappearance 36

Mama and Papa Have the Going Home Shiprock Blues 37

My great-grandfather Monahwee 46

How to Write a Poem in a Time of War 47

Mvskoke Mourning Song 51

First Morning 52

Singing Everything 53

Falling from the Night Sky 54

Our knowledge is based 55

For Earth's Grandsons 56

Running 57

A Refuge in the Smallest of Places 59

I'm Nobody! Who Are You? 60

Bourbon and Blues 61

My Great-Aunt Ella Monahwee Jacobs's Testimony 63

Road 64

The Southeast was covered 65

Desire's Dog 66

Dawning 67

Honoring 68

My Man's Feet 70

"I Wonder What You Are Thinking," 72

For Those Who Would Govern 74

Rabbit Invents the Saxophone 75

When Adolfe Sax patented 77

Let There Be No Regrets 78

Advice for Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling 79

Tobacco Origin Story 81

My aunt Lois Harjo told me 83

Redbird Love 84

We follow the DNA spiral of stories 86

Becoming Seventy 87

Beyond 95

Ren-Toh-Pvrv 96

Memory Sack 97

Every night 98

Cehotosakvtes 99

One March 100

By the Way 101

When we made it down last year 103

Welcoming Song 104

An American Sunrise 105

Bless This Land 106

Acknowledgments 111

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