Native American Joy Harjo has been honored as the first Indigenous woman to represent both her culture and those of the United States of America. Harjo has earned the distinction as the country’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. She will become the first Native American poet to serve in the position.
Earning her BA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harjo taught at UCLA and University of Tennessee.
Harjo has written eight books of poems including, the notable American Book Award-winning In Mad Love and War (1990). Often writing about love, traditions, remembrance and politics, her work will soon include a new collection called An American Sunrise (August 2019).
A 68 year-old woman of inspiration, Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She began playing the saxophone at the age of 40. Inspired by musician Miles Davis, she produced five albums, winning the 2009 Native American Music Award.
Congratulations to this amazing artist who shares her many gifts of word and song with the world!
From Joy Harjo’s book How We Become Human
Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
Ah, ah scrapes the hull of my soul. Ah, ah.
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