Joy Harjo's Web Log
Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
List of Agencies for Tsunami Relief
I've been inundated with emails giving names of organizations that are providing relief from the tsunami devestation. This list, sent by a friend, is from NPR.org and so far is the most comprehensive, so I'm passing it onto you.
Tsunami Relief: Where to Give
From NPR.org, December 29, 2004
Below is a list of aid agencies collecting donations
for the victims of the deadly tsunami that struck
Network for Good
Donate to multiple organizations online.
Action Against Hunger
247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201
New York, N.Y. 10018
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
South Asia Tsunami Relief
847A Second Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
212-687-6200 ext. 851
88 Hamilton Ave
Stamford, CT 06902
American Jewish World Service
45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10018
AFSC Crisis Fund
American Friends Service Committee Crisis Fund
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19102
1-888-588-2372, ext. 1
American Red Cross
International Response Fund
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, D.C. 20013
CARE -- Asia Quake Disaster
151 Ellis Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30303-2440
1-800-521-CARE ext. 999
Outside the U.S., call 404-681-2552
CARE USA Home Page
CARE Asian Quake Disaster Donation Page
Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090
Direct Relief International
27 South La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93117
Doctors Without Borders
P.O. Box 1856
Merrifield, Va. 22116-8056
Food for the Hungry, Inc.
Food for the Hungry
Asia Quake Relief
1224 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85034
International Medical Corps
1919 Santa Monica Boulevard, Suite 300
Santa Monica, Calif. 90404
Islamic Relief USA
Southeast Asia Earthquake Emergency
P.O. Box 6098
Burbank, Calif. 91510
Lutheran World Relief
South Asia Tsunami
PO Box 17061
Baltimore, MD 21298-9832
Southeast Asia Earthquake Response
P.O. Box 2669
Portland, Ore. 97208
8320 Melrose Avenue, Suite 200 Los Angles, Calif.
Asian Earthquake Fund
PO Box 1211
Albert Lea, MN 56007-1211
Save The Children
Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund
54 Wilton Road
Westport, Conn. 06880
US Fund for UNICEF
General Emergency Fund
333 E. 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Stop Hunger Now
SE Asia crisis
2501 Clark Ave, Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27607
P.O. Box 70288
Tacoma, WA 98481-0288
Asia Earthquake and Tsunami
19303 Fremont Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98133
World Emergency Relief
2270-D Camino Vida Roble
Carlsbad, CA 92009
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
December 29, 2004 Wednesday night
The lights of Honolulu are especially poignant tonight. The dark sky and the dark Pacific meet somewhere out there. I can already smell gunpowder from fireworks. Sales have tripled since last year when permits were required. The election put an evil network back into power and the economy is suffering. Here, the blast from the fireworks clears the air of beasts, demons, and bad accumulated thoughts, hence the loading up to dispel the evil. And I keep thinking of the tsunami and the thousands killed, suddenly and unexpectedly, especially as we paddled out tonight past the blinker buoy. The waters had a mild churn and roil because there’s a storm that’s still a few days out. I kept hearing a whale out not too far from where we were in the bay. She stayed out. The ocean reacts to every small and large thought and movement. She is never the same, and will change immediately according to a change in wind, atmosphere, a distant storm or from some other cumulative force. We’ve paddled out in relative calm, and fought our way back through a blocked channel. It’s not always that dramatic. Many times I’ve paddled out or flown over or walked along the shore of this beloved Pacific. Each year there’s more trash and less clear blue. This ocean is the blood of the earth, and the emotional field. Something has to give eventually from the weight of disrespect. When we went out on Sunday the water was jamming perfectly. We had an exhilarating paddle. It was the first time that I felt like I was dancing, that my spirit was coordinated and in time with the ocean, sky and other human travelers, from my belly all the way out. Tonight as we turned in our boat caught a wave and flew for a little while between heaven and earth. This same water that carried us in safely to shore could also destroy us, the city, and bury the island in just a few seconds. It has that much power. Something to think about…so next time you visit her, acknowledge her, sing to her, respect her.
Friday, December 17, 2004
This morning I am the beneficiary of the sunrise. I am grateful for this amazing being lifting up over the Pacific, over the Ko'olau's and this honoring of us here. I begin this day with that moment of grace. I breathe it in. And start all over. And keep moving towards love. If I can get out of my head and out of the hyper-critical field I'll make it. And if I stay there I'll make it anyway, though it may take centuries more of a hard-headed path! Sometimes I start it over every few minutes.
I re-read the Ruskin post and realize that my small perception, or rendering of perception isn't the whole story. Of course, I don't profess to have the answers or to even asking the right questions. I'm grateful for any communication, for communing with an audience, a place, a people, the sunrise. So I don't mean to sound ungrateful. We were all exactly where we needed to be. I trust that, or tell myself I should trust that because it is what was or is--and maybe I need to learn to gather up the disparate parts, or even, leave them where they are, gracefully, and acknowledge that placement, gracefully.
This morning I feel stuck between the urge for gracefulness and general ruggedness. This humanness feels all too convoluted and rough. My tendency is to fight. But I return again to the race of a few weeks ago, as I have many times since, to navigating the huge swells. We didn't fight the water as we manuvered, even flew. If we had, we would have flailed and gone over. So remember that, and just be with it, I tell myself--no matter how jammed the Friday before Christmas weekend traffic is in Honolulu.
We are each writing our story, with each breath, each thought, each action.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Finding Family in Yuba City
The next society or world I entered was the plant in Yuba City that my cousin worked at as an inspector before she retired a few years back. That afternoon after the Ruskin I was on a plane headed north to Sacramento. Then drove north through the dark up 99 to a small town where my cousin has lived since leaving Creek Indian territory in her early twenties. She was a champion barrel racer, known for her love and way with horses and animals.
The next day we went visiting her friends and old co-workers. She hasn’t been getting around very well on her own: knee problems and the general heaviness of life--one’s related to the other. We drove over to Yuba City, to a dried fruit and nut plant where many of her friends still work, a place she used to do inspections. It took us awhile to navigate up the walk and through the plant with my cousin and her walker. I imagine how frustrating it is for her, this woman at her best on the back of a spirited horse. She steered us to the cafeteria to wait for her friend. This friend has taken good care of my cousin. She has assisted her in the way someone would assist a beloved relative. I wanted to meet her and thank her.
The walls of the cafeteria were decorated with cubbies that held several hundred lunch boxes, ice chests and bags of the employees. The employees came in and out and were of just about every ethnic group possible in this country: Laotian, Mexican, local Indian, Irish, Pakistani, African and more. We sat there and visited with just about everyone who came through. Many knew my cousin and were surprised and happy to see her. We heard several stories as we waited there: of retirement, break-ups, weddings, deaths, struggles and other intrigues. What struck me was the connection between everyone. This was community; this was family, though there were cultural differences of huge leaps that could never be crossed. They spent most of their waking hours with each other and had been through everything together. I was accepted and dealt with as a human being, not as someone with a title or other status. I was my cousin’s cousin, first of all, and a visitor to their community, second of all. I was offered and accepted food, smiles, handshakes, hugs and good wishes.
Eventually my cousin’s benefactor got off her shift and came out. She was a giant of a woman: red-haired and tough and a heart bigger than the plant. She looks after a small ranch with horses and cows, some teenagers (one is her own), a few organizations, and some others she’s adopted, like my cousin. And she puts in a full shift every day at the plant. I admire her. You won’t see her name blazoned in Hollywood or the newspapers, but what she’s done of her life is worthy of such acknowledgement. She’s a real human being.
I was reminded of my years of struggle when my son was a few years old and we lived in Santa Fe on not much money. Though people didn’t have much in our poor community they were willing to share. In that neighborhood we shared food, good luck, the bad, all of it. And we mixed in a little singing, dancing and celebration. And we got by. And we seemed alot happier than many who appear to have it all.
Getting Down at the Ruskin Art Club
Within a few days during my recent journey to California I passed through several different worlds, each embodying a certain state of mind, it’s own set of manners, sense of language and deportment. From the vantage point of a few days later each of these worlds appears as a dream, just like dreamtime, in which what happened is already gone, vaporous, but the consequences of behavior, the intentions set into place still exist and are moving forward in the same manner that the day is turning over and soon it will be morning and then night again. Over and over. And then soon that over and over is a year, ten years, a decade, a century, an age. And what of each of these small worlds?
The Abbey is the hip gay club in West Hollywood, just off Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. This urban funky recently expanded warehouse of a club reeks of high gay attitude and culture. It’s predominately male, with a few attendant fag hags, some lesbian tables and a few straight couples who’ve come to see and be seen. We were early and the traffic was easy, still I felt self-conscious and out of place. Here in this kingdom of perfect physical beauty and ambition, in the thump-throb of the industrial dance music holding all together in an energetic rhythmic cell, I was conscious of my not-good-enough clothes, face, stance. Or more than that, as I walked through the different rooms, all the different stories I realized I didn’t want anything or need anything from anyone here—I was a visitor for a moment in time. I didn’t come there by accident. The place intrigues me. One of my best friends frequents the place, as does a cousin. And when people come to town, we go or take them there. Like a tribal chief, but that’s another story.
In another, younger life I’ve lived for that electric dance when everything shines and hangs together perfectly and you want nothing more than to spin on the dance floor and celebrate your earthliness. Here, and now I’m invisible. The only thing that would change that is a change in dress, age and attitude. When my cousin introduces me most are genuinely friendly. They become human with a name, a story. Others look right through me, like the high-powered studio executive who gave a polite nod then fixed his eyes to the wall behind me. I didn’t have apparent power or connections. Then the equation is nothing from nothing.
As I walked through, from the black leather boys decorating the entrance, past the tables of self-conscious diners, to the huge rooms arranged for drama, each filled with the evening’s catch, I asked myself who am I and what am I doing here? It’s the larger question I ask frequently, wherever I am. I ask it to force myself to stay aware. I wanted to dance, for me, dancing is the most natural state of being. But no rooms were for dancing though people gyrated to the beat wherever they were: leaning one of several bars, near the fireplace, or standing in place talking with friends or potential friends or partners. And the music was too repetitive, too dead. There was no humanness in it. It was constructed of prefabricated beats, dedicated to elevating the pace of the hunt. I asked myself who I was, and felt my spirit cupped in my belly. I let it all alone as I walked through the sadness, fear, joy, sorrow and sheer life gathered there. I wanted nothing from that place, or anyone there. I was just passing through…
The next morning as I crossed La Cienega to head to the gym one of the “dancers”, a beautiful athletic black man crossing towards me, carrying his bag with toothbrush, music in his ears, and a bag big enough for a change of clothes. He was still wearing what he had on the night before. I made note of it all. There are reasons for everything.
(Next, the Ruskin Arts Club in Hancock Park, and the dried-fruit factory cafeteria in Yuba City)
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
We were there at the mouth of the windblown channel
Near the end of a paddle
And the sky was opening up just as it was closing down
And Kokohead stood in a warrior cape of mist above us,
And below the boat rolled the blue kingdom of knowledge.
We paused there at the culmination of ten thousand paths:
six travelers pulling together in that sacred outrigger.
As the day lay down behind the crater,
And one year floated up behind another
And all the births, partings and deaths we carried with us
copyright Joy Harjo December 7, 2004 Honolulu, HI
This was last night after a practice paddle, right at dusk. Amazing colors in death and birth. Like sunrise. Like sunset.
Saturday, December 04, 2004
I left the house at 6:45 AM. A cardinal was singing. They're relatively rare here and when they appear I am always reminded of my father. This was helpful this morning as I made my way with a bit of trepidation and excitement to the Moanalua Bay and the Hui Nalu Canoe Club for the race. We'd left the club last night in the dark, after rigging the boats. This morning when we arrived, there was still rigging to attend to--The surf report included small craft advisory warnings with high winds and waves. And as one of my very experienced paddler friends said, after the race, if this had been a sanctioned race, it would have been called off. But it was a race traditionally run every year at this time, called, "Choose your Weapon Race" which means it's a race for one-man, two-man, six-man canoes and even jet skis. This year it was to raise money for a canoe paddler in need. The canoe community is very giving and often comes together to help one of their own.
I was in a mixed-crew of three women and three men. Heading to the starting line with all the other canoes reminds me of walking up the steps to a stage in a crowded auditorium to perform--a similar kind of energy. What helped me get over a paralyzing stage fright was to realize that the energy coming through was exactly that, energy to help. I had been wrongly turning it into terror. It's like electricity.
The race started before we even made it to the line up. I could feel the collective agreement to throw our minds like a net over what could have been demoralizing. Instead we paddled hard and kept going. Once we were out of the bay the ride began. How do I describe being in a relatively small outrigger negotiating capricious wind and waves? At least the wind (mostly) was at our backs. And the deep blue of the water was beautiful. I say this part after the fact because for most of the race we were concentrated on keeping moving despite whatever was thrown at us or rolled under and sometimes over. There were several points we paddle air not water because the boat was lifted up. The turning point was at Diamond Head buoy, literally and figuratively. Here we turned toward Waikiki, and here were relative giant waves we flew on and from. It was terrifying and exciting. Then we headed with a smaller push all the way to the end of the race. It took about two hours of solid race pace paddling. And we made it, with a good time, good crew and a steady pace.
Still, you can't help but notice the water; it's beautiful here. But eventually (at moments) you quit thinking about it. You become part of it.
In these races every seat counts. The most difficult seats are the stroker, in number one, and the steersperson, in seat six. Lurline McGregor was the stroker in our boat and she kept excellent pace, no matter the conditions. Her paddling was solid and consistent from the first stroke to the last. The steersperson is the director of the boat, and keeps it on course and calls out directions to all of the seats. We have to be ready to do whatever needs to be done to keep moving well, to keep from flipping, etc. . It's the position with the most responsibility. I'd wondered about our steersperson. Lisa Chang seemed so slight and unassuming. She was awesome. This was some of the most difficult water even the most experienced paddlers had been in, and we moved surely and consistently. I sat in seat four, called the power seat. The responsibility of seat four is to watch the ama (the balance to an outrigger, to watch means to lean on it and keep it from flipping up, which means then the boat will fly over) and to bail. With the kind of conditions we had today there was plenty of action on both accounts.
Making it to the finish was very emotional. We stopped after getting out of the way of other finishers. Some jumped in and went swimming, then we paddled to Anuenue to pack up the boats. Most of us sat there in awe. I am still in awe of the process of such a test of the body and spirit, and of the force and power of these seas. I always learn something from the water.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Upcoming Events and A Quandry
Thank you for all who wrote in to tell me that the name of the Choctaw poet opening up the evening at the University of Oklahoma a week ago is none other than Steven Sexton. Keep an eye out for those up and coming poets.
Also a note to those who have emailed me and not written back, my computer died, and with it all of my email addressed and unanswered mail. My replacement computer died,too, a few days later. Now I'm gingerly writing on this one.
Some upcoming events:
I'll be making a special appearance at Native Winds, Hawai'is Native book, CD, jewelry and craft supply store in Kaimuki, 1152 Kokohead Ave. Suite 202 this Saturday, December 4th. I'll be there close to 1 (depends on when the Leighton Look Fundraiser Canoe Race ends...that is, when my Hui Nalu canoe crew makes it from Maunaloa Bay to Magic Island...about 12 miles...forecasts are for 12 to 15 foot facing waves...that would be exciting, and treacherous). I'm scheduled to be there for book and CD signing, general visiting and hanging out, from 1-4PM.
The next event is the Ruskin Poetry Series in Los Angeles, where I'll be reading, and improvising with Chris Abani, one of my favorite poets/writers:
RED HEN PRESS & THE RUSKIN ART CLUB PRESENT
Ruskin Art Club’s historic clubhouse 800 S. Plymouth Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90005
in the Wilshire district, one block south of Wilshire & three blocks west of Crenshaw.
*Joy Harjo & Chris Abani * Sunday Dec.12, 2pm
Plus: A Special RUSKIN POETRY PRIZE Winner
Food & Refreshments Reception
Authors' Books, The Los Angeles Literary Review & Broadsides for sale
For membership & Future Readings, Lectures, Workshops & Concerts
call: 310-669-2369 RuskinArt Club & USC Doheny Library Readings Info
Red Hen Press : 818-831-0649
This event is co-sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from the James Irvine Foundation
Also, coming up is the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January 2005. A Thousand Roads, a film co-written by Scott Garen and me, will premiere. It was directed by Chris Eyre. It's dramatic doesn't fit any prescribed form. It will be the Signature film for the National Museum of the American Indian. It's a poetic journey of several short narratives of the lives of fictionalized native characters. John Trudell provides the narrative voice.
And UCLA begins winter quarter in January 2005.
Otherwise, I am still puzzling over the riddle of how to communicate with an in-law who loves my relative and is wonderful to his children. I advised the marriage to my beloved relative because within him is someone who is capable of loving well. He has proven that promise. We circled each other in the kitchen during Thanksgiving cleanup. We gave us impetus to stay with it is that we basically care for each, despite my: Indian-poet-musician-thinker self, and his white-military-policeman-lover-of his family self. What I learned is that there is a race of people in town that he cannot tolerate. And in his position he has intimate power over them. And what do I do with this? I responded back with questions for information, about the drug of choice for lawbreakers, ice is making headway, dangers. In the questions, in my speech I attempted to imbue all with a humanity. I walked away uncomfortable with my failure, and the knowlege that I have, that is, this man who has been an exlempary family member would probably hate me if we didn't have a family connnection. And how would I feel if I saw him outside the circle of family? I realize that I too make my own judgements, my own assumptions. How do any of us see past the world we assume from parents, teachers, schools, television? Some wisdom may be inherent in these sources, in sane times, maybe even now. But in a system that values money and acquisition of the material over compassionate values most are flawed. Maybe what I've assumed as true all this time, isn't. There are basic laws, however, and the most basic is loving care to whatever we are doing, to whomever we come into contact with...even our enemies. I realized in that potent, hot moment of the circling that there was no word, no poem, no song I could say at that moment that would change him. I wanted him to see the foolishness of his assumptions, past the white, evangelical structure of meaning in that small town of Tulsa. And I would probably be the only one who just might open him a little to compassion, or to seeing us as humans. Maybe he's thinking the same thing, puzzling over my hard mind.
And then again, what is the purpose of poetry and song? To hammer with a message? To delight with verbal gymnastics? To punch and slam with rhetorical surprise? To convince?
That's not my experience with it. That doesn't mean to say poetry cannot perform all of these functions, for me it's about something deeper, a soul talk, a genuine response of the soul. It's hard to hear to soul with all this clatter.
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