Winner of the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1990)
Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award (1991)
2019 United States Poet Laureate
Joy Harjo is a powerful voice for her Creek (Muscogee) tribe ("a stolen people in a stolen land"), for other oppressed people, and for herself. Her poems, both sacred ad secular, are written with the passions of anger, grief, and love, at once tender and furious. They are rooted in the land; they are one with the deer and the fox, the hawk and the eagle, the sun, moon, and wind, and the seasons –; "spring/ was lean and hungry with he hope of children and corn." There are enemies here, also lovers; there are ghost dancers, ancestors old and new, who rise again "to walk in shoes of fire."
Indeed, fire and its aftermath is a constant image in the burning book. Skies are "incendiary"; the "smoke of dawn" turns enemies into ashes: "I am fire eaten by wind." "Your fire scorched/ my lips." "I am lighting the fire that crawls from my spine/ to the gods with a coal from my sister's flame."
But the spirit of this book is not consumed. It is not limited by mad love or war, and "there is something larger than the memory/ of a dispossessed people." That something larger is, for example, revolution, freedom, birth.
About the Author
JOY HARJO became the first Native American to be named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019. She is associate professor of English at the University of Arizona, an editor, a screenwriter, and a player of tenor sax. A member of the Creek (Muscogee) tribe, he was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and grew up in that state and in New Mexico. She attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she later was an instructor, and was graduated from the University of New Mexico (B.A. 1976) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. 1978). She was assistant professor at the University of Colorado fro 985 to 1988. HARJO has published two other books of poetry, What Moo Drove Me To This? And She Had Some Horses, and a chapbook, The Last Song. Secrets from the Center of the World (with her text and photographs by Stephen Strom) was published in 1989, and a taped recording of her poetry, "Furious Light," was issued in 196 by the Watershed Foundation. She has received an Academy of American Poetry Award at the University of New Mexico, an NEA Creative Fellowship (1978), an EA summer stipend at the University of Arizona (1978), and an Arizona Commission on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship (1989). She won firs place in poetry at the Santa Fe Festival for the Arts (1980). Harjo also earned the Oklahoma Center for the Book's Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award. Her home is in Tucson.
What People are Saying About This
“Joy Harjo is one of the real poets of our mixed, fermenting, end-of-century North American imagination.”
“In Mad Love and War moved me and made me feel quite pried open and shot through with a very immanent sacred power and a sense also of the strength ad endurance of a woman who draws energy and insight and compassion from everything in her background…”
"Joy Harjo is one of the real poets of our mixed, fermenting, end-of-century North American imagination."Adrienne Rich
"In Mad Love and War moved me and made me feel quite pried open and shot through with a very immanent sacred power and a sense also of the strength ad endurance of a woman who draws energy and insight and compassion from everything in her background"Marge Piercy
"Joy Harjo is one of the real poets of our mixed, fermenting, end-of-century North American imagination."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I'm still reading this wonderful book of poems. I've had to turn off the reader in me that gets focused on a "finish line" and make a commitment that I'll keep this book until the day it's due back at the library. I've had to remind myself that one doesn't read poetry. One savors it. One reads a poem, allows it to roll around in the mind and the memory, lets it touch the heart, and gives it time to settle in. Then, sometimes, one reads it again. And sometimes, yet a third time. This is a delightful collection of poems. I love how personal they are. I love how Harjo, in "speaking" to a particular person who has touched her life (Billie Holiday, Richard Hugo), she touches on universal longing, love, humor, and --- well, just what it is to be deeply touched by someone.Completed it now. I love the final poem in the collection, "Eagle Poem." Other favorites were "A Winning Hand" and "Summer Night." I haven't read poetry much in recent years (decades), and this was an excellent re-introduction for me.