United States Poet Laureate and winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets Leadership Award Joy Harjo examines the power of words and how poetry summons us toward justice and healing.
In this lyrical meditation about the why of writing poetry, Joy Harjo reflects on significant points of illumination, experience, and questioning from her fifty years as a poet. Comprised of intimate vignettes that take us through the author’s life journey as a youth in the late 1960s, a single mother, and a champion of Native nations, this book offers a fresh understanding of how poetry functions as an expression of purpose, spirit, community, and memory.
Harjo insists the most meaningful poetry is birthed through cracks in history from what is broken and unseen. At the crossroads of this brokenness, she calls us to watch and listen for the songs of justice for all those America has denied. This is an homage to the power of words to defy erasure—to inscribe the story, again and again, of who we have been, who we are, and who we can be.
"Always illuminating, Harjo writes as if the creative journey has been the destination all along."
“[Harjo’s] poetry is light and elixir, the very best prescription for us in wounded times.”
—Sandra Cisneros, The Millions
“Her enduring message—that writing can be redemptive—resonates: ‘To write is to make a mark in the world, to assert “I am.”’ The result is a rousing testament to the power of storytelling.”