Photo: Matika Wilbur
Photo: Matika Wilbur

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019.

The author of nine books of poetry, several plays and children's books, and a memoir, Crazy Brave, her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, a PEN USA Literary Award, Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund Writers’ Award, a Rasmuson US Artist Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Harjo is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is a Tulsa Artist Fellow.

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through

A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry

Edited by Joy Harjo with LeAnne Howe, Jennifer Elise Foerster, and Contributing Editors

When the Light of the World edited by Joy Harjo

United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology.

This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize–winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.

Press: Interviews, Reviews, Articles

July 14, 2020, The New York Times
After a Trail of Tears, Justice for Indian Country

"From my elders, I learned that justice is sometimes seven generations away or more — and inevitable."

June 17, 2020, PEN America
Into the Streets: Writers Recommend Books of Protest

As protest rights are threatened around the country, as documented in the new PEN America report Arresting Dissent, we turn to books that demonstrate the power and importance of taking action and speaking out against racism, oppression, censorship, and injustice. We asked authors, historians, and scholars to share one book that has inspired and informed them as they write, create, and dissent.

June 12, 2020, The New York Times
The Poems That Poets Turn To in a Time of Strife

Joy Harjo, along with fifteen poets, tell us about the verses and books they are reading, or that they hope others seek out. Read here

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Librarian of Congress Names Joy Harjo the Nation's 23rd Poet Laureate

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the appointment of Joy Harjo as the nation’s 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2019-2020. Harjo will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season on Sept. 19 with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.