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Native American Studies Research Guide

Guide to resources at West Virginia University

An Evening with U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 7pm to 8pm

WVU Downtown Campus | Mountainlair Student Union Ballrooms | Free Event

WVU's Native American Studies Program, in collaboration with the WVU Humanities Center, presents an evening of poetry with U.S. Poet Laureate JOY HARJO (Muscogee (Creek) Nation), renowned poet, author, editor, playwright, and musician. Ms. Harjo's presentation begins at 7:00 p.m.

Cody Blackbird, award-winning Native American flute player, performs welcome music from 6:30-7 p.m.

Event co-sponsors include the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the Dept. of English.

In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine books of poetry, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs. More info on Ms. Harjo.

To join the virtual audience, register here

Joy Harjo books

Soul Talk, Song Language

Joy Harjo is a "poet-healer-philosopher-saxophonist," and one of the most powerful Native American voices of her generation. She has spent the past two decades exploring her place in poetry, music, dance/performance, and art. Soul Talk, Song Language gathers together in one complete collection many of these explorations and conversations. Through an eclectic assortment of media, including personal essays, interviews, and newspaper columns, Harjo reflects upon the nuances and development of her art, the importance of her origins, and the arduous reconstructions of the tribal past, as well as the dramatic confrontation between Native American and Anglo civilizations. Harjo takes us on a journey into her identity as a woman and an artist, poised between poetry and music, encompassing tribal heritage and reassessments and comparisons with the American cultural patrimony. She presents herself in an exquisitely literary context that is rooted in ritual and ceremony and veers over the edge where language becomes music.

Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light

Unique perspectives on the roots and reaches of contemporary Native Theater from the 2019 Poet Laureate of the United States Joy Harjo's play Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light is the centerpiece of this collection that includes essays and interviews concerning the roots and the reaches of contemporary Native Theater. Harjo blends storytelling, music, movement, and poetic language in Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light--a healing ceremony that chronicles the challenges young protagonist Redbird faces on her path to healing and self-determination. This text is accompanied by interviews with Native theater artists Rolland Meinholtz and Randy Reinholz, as well as an interview with Harjo, conducted by Page. The interviews highlight the lives and contributions of Meinholtz, a theater artist and educator who served as the drama instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts from 1964-70 and a close mentor and friend to Harjo; and Reinholz, producing artistic director of Native Voices at the Autry, the nation's only Equity theater company dedicated exclusively to the development and production of new plays by Native American, First Nations, and Alaska Native playwrights. The new interview with Harjo focuses on her experiences working in theater. Essays on Harjo's work are provided by Mary Kathryn Nagle--an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee nation, playwright, and attorney who shares her insights on the legal and historical frameworks through which we can better understand the significance of Harjo's play; and Priscilla Page--writer, performer, and educator (of Wiyot heritage), who looks at indigenous feminism, jazz, and performance as influences on Harjo's theatrical work.

Crazy Brave

In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice. Harjo's tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.

An American Sunrise

National Bestseller 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.

The Good Luck Cat

Some cats are good luck. You pet them and good things happen. Woogie is one of those cats. But as Woogie gets into one mishap after another, everyone starts to worry. Can a good luck cat's good luck run out? The first children's book from an acclaimed poet whose honors include the American Book Award and the William Carlos Williams Award Celebrates the special relationship between a young girl and her cat *A modern Native American story from a member of the Muskogee-Creek tribe

Woman Who Fell from the Sky

Joy Harjo, one of this country's foremost Native American voices, combines elements of storytelling, prayer, and song, informed by her interest in jazz and by her North American tribal background, in this, her fourth volume of poetry. She draws from the Native American tradition of praising the land and the spirit, the realities of American culture, and the concept of feminine individuality.

Secrets from the Center of the World

"My house is the red earth; it could be the center of the world." This is Navajo country, a land of mysterious and delicate beauty. "Stephen Strom's photographs lead you to that place," writes Joy Harjo. "The camera eye becomes a space you can move through into the powerful landscapes that he photographs. The horizon may shift and change all around you, but underneath it is the heart with which we move." Harjo's prose poems accompany these images, interpreting each photograph as a story that evokes the spirit of the Earth. Images and words harmonize to evoke the mysteries of what the Navajo call the center of the world.

In Mad Love and War

Sacred and secular poems of the Creek Tribe. 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.

The Spiral of Memory

With the recently-published The Woman Who Fell from the Sky , Joy Harjo has emerged as one of the most powerful Native American voices of her generation. Over the past two decades, Harjo has refined and perfected a unique poetic voice that speaks her multifaceted experience as Native American, woman and Westerner in twentieth-century society. The Spiral of Memory gathers the conversations in which Harjo has articulated her singular yet universal perspective on the world and her poetry. She reflects upon the nuances and development of her art, the importance of her origins, the arduous reconstruction of the tribal past, the dramatic confrontation between Native American and Anglo civilizations, the existential and artistic itinerary through present-day America, and other provocative and profoundly human themes. Joy Harjo is the author of several volumes of poetry. She received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Before Columbus Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America. She is Professor of English, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Laura Coltelli is Associate Professor of American Literature, University of Pisa.

She Had Some Horses

A new edition of the beloved volume by Joy Harjo, one of our foremost Native American poets. First published in 1983 and now considered a classic, She Had Some Horses is a powerful exploration of womanhood's most intimate moments. Joy Harjo's poems speak of women's despair, of their imprisonment and ruin at the hands of men and society, but also of their awakenings, power, and love.

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings

In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues, and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lost ancestors are recalled. Resilient songs are born, even as they grieve the loss of their country. Called a "magician and a master" (San Francisco Chronicle), Joy Harjo is at the top of her form in Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.

How We Became Human

This collection gathers poems from throughout Joy Harjo's twenty-eight-year career, beginning in 1973 in the age marked by the takeover at Wounded Knee and the rejuvenation of indigenous cultures in the world through poetry and music. How We Became Human explores its title question in poems of sustaining grace.

A Map to the Next World

In her fifth book, Joy Harjo, one of our foremost Native American voices, melds memories, dream visions, myths, and stories from America's brutal history into a poetic whole.

For a Girl Becoming

Transformative moments in the cycle of life are a time for acknowledgment, a chance to guide a child’s path in a positive and loving direction. Swirling images laden with both myth and personal meaning illustrate this unique, poetic tale of the joys and lessons of a girl’s journey through birth, youth, and finally adulthood. Within these colorful pages, family and community come together in celebration of her arrival, offering praise, love, and advice to help carry her forward through the many milestones to come, and reminding her always of how deeply she is cherished. It is a reminder, too, of our abiding connections to the natural world, and the cyclical nature of life as a whole. With its rich, symbolic artwork and captivating language, For a Girl Becoming is the perfect gift to recognize a birth, graduation, or any other significant moment in a young woman’s life. Not only for children, this lively and touching story speaks to that part in each of us who still stands at the door of becoming. nbsp;

Indigenous poets in WVU Library collections

Literary Collection

Joy Harjo booklist