Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her "poet-warrior" road. A musical, kaleidoscopic, and wise follow-up to Crazy Brave, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice.
Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, and the messengers of a changing earth—owls heralding grief, resilient desert plants, and a smooth green snake curled up in surprise. She celebrates the influences that shaped her poetry, among them Audre Lorde, N. Scott Momaday, Walt Whitman, Muscogee stomp dance call-and-response, Navajo horse songs, rain, and sunrise. In absorbing, incantatory prose, Harjo grieves at the loss of her mother, reckons with the theft of her ancestral homeland, and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.
Moving fluidly between prose, song, and poetry, Harjo recounts a luminous journey of becoming, a spiritual map that will help us all find home. Poet Warrior sings with the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.
Praise for POET WARRIOR
In a gorgeous and meditative work that blends poetry, philosophy, and nonlinear narrative, U.S. poet laureate Harjo (Crazy Brave) delivers a lyrical homage to her Creek Nation family.
Joy Harjo is "gifted with the ability to listen deeply and find a place to exist harmoniously between sensuality and physical power and sensitivity and connectedness to other inner and spiritual energies. Throughout this lyrical, beautiful memoir Harjo generously shares her inspirations: family, nature, ritual, music, literature, her life lessons and insights gleaned from her dreams, psychic intuitions, and communications with ancestors."
—Janet St. John, Starred Review in Booklist, July 1, 2021
“Reading the book is a magical ride.”
Poet Warrior, an exuberant, thoughtful memoir, a bookend companion to her magnificent Crazy Brave, sings of a life moving toward wisdom. In a powerful mix of poetry and prose, infused with a grace of memory, a gift of dream and vision, Joy Harjo walks us through a landscape of individual and collective suffering, the ways of justice and injustice, and the legacies of power and conflict, while at once listening carefully to what can be learned through empathy, connection, belonging, gratefulness, and humor.
—Barnes & Noble
"Joy Harjo is more than a poet, painter, and musician; she is a spiritual being aware of the meaning of everything we see as well as the things around us that are usually invisible. And Poet Warrior is an invitation to open our eyes and see it all with her"
A gorgeous, compassionate memoir from one of America’s greatest living writers.