About Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo, the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She is only the second poet to be appointed a third term as U.S. Poet Laureate.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she left home to attend high school at the innovative Institute of American Indian Arts, which was then a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. Harjo began writing poetry as a member of the University of New Mexico’s Native student organization, the Kiva Club, in response to Native empowerment movements. She went on to earn her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teach English, Creative Writing, and American Indian Studies at University of California-Los Angeles, University of New Mexico, University of Arizona, Arizona State, University of Illinois, University of Colorado, University of Hawai’i, Institute of American Indian Arts, and University of Tennessee, while performing music and poetry nationally and internationally.
Harjo is the author of ten books of poetry, including her most recent, Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years (2022), the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise (2019), which was a 2020 Oklahoma Book Award Winner, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and named a Notable Book of the Year by the American Library Association, and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her first memoir, Crazy Brave, was awarded the PEN USA Literary Award in Creative Non Fiction and the American Book Award, and her second, Poet Warrior: A Memoir, was released from W.W. Norton in Fall 2021.
She has published three award-winning children’s books, Remember, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming; a poetry collaboration with photographer/astronomer Stephen Strom, Secrets From The Center of The World; an anthology of North American Native women’s writing, Reinventing The Enemy’s Language ; several screenplays and collections of prose interviews, including her recent Catching the Light; and three plays, including Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, A Play, which she toured as a one-woman show and was published by Wesleyan Press.
She is Executive Editor of the 2020 anthology When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry and the editor of Living Nations, Living Words: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, the companion anthology to her signature Poet Laureate project featuring a sampling of work by 47 Native Nations poets through an interactive ArcGIS Story Map and a newly developed Library of Congress audio collection.
Harjo’s awards include Yale’s 2023 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts, a Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, a PEN USA Literary Award, the Poets & Writers Jackson Poetry Prize, two NEA fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Her poetry is included on a plaque on LUCY, a NASA spacecraft launched in Fall 2021 and the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojans.
Harjo performs with her saxophone and flutes, solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynamics Band, and previously with Joy Harjo and Poetic Justice. She/they have toured across the U.S. and in Europe, South America, India, Africa, and Canada. Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including Winding Through the Milky Way, for which she was awarded a NAMMY for Best Female Artist of the year, and her newest album, I Pray for My Enemies.
In addition to serving as a three-term U.S. Poet Laureate, Harjo is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and is a founding board member and Chair of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She has recently been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Philosophical Society, the National Native American Hall of Fame, and the National Woman’s Hall of Fame.
She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she is the inaugural Artist-in-Residence of the Bob Dylan Center.