We Wanted To Be Writers
August 8, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
July 29, 2012
Readers familiar with Joy Harjo's poetry, or, better, who have experienced her live performances, will recognize a familiar cadence and overarching mythic quality in the voice she creates for her newest work, "Crazy Brave." In a memoir steeped in her Mvskoke (also known as Muscogee) worldview, Harjo relates narratives of abuse, persistence and reclamation that tap into universal human emotions. Harjo's text resonates for and with readers, whether longtime fans or not; as she asserts, "A story matrix connects all of us." Read More
Cowboys & Indians
Ms. Blog - Trail of Tears
As the most well-known Native (Mvskoke-Creek) woman poet of her generation, and the 2009 Nammy winner for best female artist, Joy Harjo has been offering us her words and music for three decades now. In her late 50s, she is still at the height of her creative powers, still one of only a handful of Native musicians and poets who have been able to get their own stories out to a wide audience– thus insuring that those stories will not be ignored, twisted, distorted or maligned by others. Link to jpeg
The New Mexican Magazine: Unsafe Sax
Storytelling and improvised conversation have long played a role in Harjo’s performance life, so it wasn’t altogether surprising for her to move into the realm of theater. “In the last few years,” she says thoughtfully, “I began to see how I could combine everything I had been working on into a larger piece, to consolidate all the elements into a fuller and deeper arc.”
The long-anticipated latest release by Joy Harjo is finally here! Fans will not be disappointed with this new collection of songs which celebrates ancestral sensibilities wrapped in contemporary indigenous rhythms. Some of the original work is layered and deep; some is light-hearted and presents itself as a strand in the fabric of our island community. The guitar work of Producer/Guitarist Larry Mitchell is captivating and complements Harjo's powerful, emotive saxophone rifts. I can't decide which song touches me most deeply, but I predict that all listeners will feel a palpable connection with the primal energy of Harjo's spoken words, melodies, songs, and instrumentation.
I also love that Harjo has given us her interpretation of Jim Pepper's classic Witchi Tai To. It honors the amazing Jim Pepper and his contributions to both mainstream and Native music (To read about Jim Pepper, go to http://jimpepperlives.wordpress.com/). For me, it also stirs memories of 1969 when, as an East Coast city girl, I first heard Brewer and Shipley sing Witchi Tai To on their album "Weeds." (For those disabled by generational memory lapses, you might remember Brewer and Shipley from their ubiquitous anthem "One Toke Over the Line.") Harjo's version of Witchi Tai To is simultaneously unique and traditional. Not to be missed.
Harjo's new album may be her very best, a mature and complex work with something for everyone. Buy two copies: one to keep and one for your best friend. Stop by for a listen if you're not convinced. You won't regret it.
Wicked Local Norton News
Joy Harjo brings Play to Merrimack College http://www.wickedlocal.com/norton/archive/x1336916469/Poet-Joy-Harjo-brings-play-to-Merrimack-College-in-North-Andover#axzz1Gvi6GY1m
We Shall Remain NAPT Radio Project
Modern Day People from We Shall Remain
It was only 20 years ago when poet, professor and musician Joy Harjo went to a gathering to discuss the Columbus quincentenary and heard an indigenous Bolivian woman say she was stunned to discover indigenous people still existed in the U.S. and Canada. It’s this portrait across the globe that Hollywood producers and the mainstream media have painted and romanticized—from the long-haired, bare-chested Indian riding horse back to the beautiful buckskin wearing maiden—even in modern times.
As the series We Shall Remain using such imagery debuted on PBS’ American Experience April 13, 2009, a companion radio piece also rolls out, which Native people say works to balance the historic visuals with sounds and conversation from contemporary people and culture—the remain part in We Shall Remain.
“It was really important to us to show the authentic Native voice from a contemporary prospective,” said Peggy Berryhill (Muscogee Creek), producer of the companion We Shall Remain radio project. “…And we felt that it was vitally important that tribes and Native communities are not left in the past, but seen as the dynamic sovereign nations that they are today.”
PBS Series: We Shall Remain
Brent Michael Davids (Mohican) maintains that there is no such thing as generic Indian music. "Hollywood might lead you to believe that the sound is of a pentatonic scale. That's from the Plains tribes, as are the headdresses, moccasins, horses that Hollywood depicts, but there are over 500 different tribes in the country," Davids explains, and the fact is that most Native music is very sophisticated and complex.
JLW: “Did music grow in you before poetry, or was it simultaneous?”
Joy: “I see them growing together, though the poetry was practiced and public long before music. Music was stolen from me when I was about fourteen and it took me until I was forty to be able to reclaim it again. The saxophone was my first musicial helper. I picked it up when I was about forty. It all comes together on Winding Through the Milky Way.” Read the whole interview
New Music Box
What Makes it Native? Brent Michael Davids (Mohican) maintains that there is no such thing as generic Indian music. "Hollywood might lead you to believe that the sound is of a pentatonic scale. That's from the Plains tribes, as are the headdresses, moccasins, horses that Hollywood depicts, but there are over 500 different tribes in the country," Davids explains, and the fact is that most Native music is very sophisticated and complex. http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/Native-American-Composers/
Josh Hathaway Fanboy Pick
Originating in the Music
Joy Harjo's poetry is often related to her origin. She is a descendant of Creek Indians and emphasizes a holistic view of the world, which now has been expressing more and more because of the climate crisis.
Poet and musician Joy Harjo has released seven a collection of poetry, including She had some horses, In mad love and war, The woman who fell from the sky and How we became human. Her first CD, Letter from the End of the 20th century, released in 1997.
Joy Harjo is a poet and musician with roots in the Creek Indian culture and the American South. She visited Sweden to participate in the International Poetry Festival and Free Newspapers took the opportunity to meet her for a conversation on the origins and global awareness.
In Oklahoma, USA, are no indigenous communities gathered under the name Creek Nation since the late 1800s. It consists of the descendants of the thousands of Indians as displaced persons by the U.S. military to the Indian reservation in Oklahoma. The aim was to civilize the Indians, while their limited land resources. Joy Harjo was born in Oklahoma and call themselves "creek" or "Creek", now she lives in Albequerque, New Mexico, and Honolulu, Tahiti.
Her poetry has taken her to Sweden and the Stockholm International Poetry Festival, where she appeared November 17 in conjunction with Stew Claeson. Joy wearing a white cowboy hat, dark clothes and her tattooed hand has a slightly limp handshake. In Sweden, she has been once before, but the more time she spent in Norwegian sameland. Sámi history and communities reminiscent of the Indians.
-The name Harjo, I have heard will be in Finland, but it is also a tribal name that means "so brave you åre crazy," says Joy Harjo and laughs. Joy Harjo has published several poetry books, written a children's book, played four music and is currently producing a "one woman's show" as she called Wings of skylights, wings of morning light. The show is about a woman of Indian origin. She describes it as a helningsritual with laughter and sorrow, but not autobiographical.
-I like freedom and like to write fictional stories, but much of it is taken from what I seen and heard among American Indian women. Her poetry is linked to elements of nature, man and music. Some of her songs are similar to spoken word, where she speaks of music in the background, not rarely a melancholy saxophone and drums.
- I do poetry, whether I talk or sing. Spoken word is a dramatized monologue, while poetry is song tied to the paper. Poetry came into the world of music and dance before paper was invented, so when I sing rejoice poetry about leaving the paper, "says Joy Harjo and smiles wrong. She is self-taught saxophonist, and writes every day. Words used, discarded and recycled. Joys favorite comes from the Creek language.
- I'm trying to learn my language, and where I often hear the word "vnvketcka" (pronounced anagetchka) which means "love and compassion." In some of his songs sing Joy Harjo at the creek. Her origin is of great importance to her, but overshadowed by a multi-layered personality.
- There is a notion that all Indians have the same origin, but there are hundreds of tribes with different traditions. Indians have generally been a symbol of the indigenous population, but it does not include our humanity and true history. My grandmother played the saxophone in his indian by before Oklahoma was even a state and it is probably a show that is not consistent with Disney's Pocahontas. Joy compare Indians with the Sami way of life and traditions.
- No people live as they used to. We have our ceremonial sites, and just as your samer dress, we do not traditionally to be found. We have jeans and t-shirts for us, just like any other. Joy Harjo has been praised several times for his poetry, which often is related to her origin. But the term "original American" uses her not yourself.
- It is an academic term as part young Indians feel comfortable in, but I prefer to call ourselves Indians or the tribe name. I do not think that the origin can be used on only one ethnic group, but the term "native american" really applies to all those born in America. USA just got a president who called the Afro-American, even though he lived all his life in America. Barack Obama is on everyone's lips, and Joy wrote with joy on her blog: "Obama won!"
She hopes that Obama will at least try to enforce agreements that protect the climate, but also work for a fairer America. Joy Harjo writes committed on her blog on environmental issues and indianers rights in both North-to South America.
-What climate crisis is about is a conscious approach to food we eat and the place we live. We live in a dynamic world where not only people talking and doing things. Even plants and animals, earth, sun, moon and remains of our ancestors created this world. It is a complex system. Some researchers have begun to see the world as, with climate change. It is an approach that has existed among Indians of all time - that the world is linked by a great awareness.
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can not see, can not hear,
Can not know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That are not always sound but other Circles of motion.
(Joy Harjo, from the book In Mad Love & War)
Harjo of the tattooed hands to the face and föser away hair. The tattoo, which she did on Tahiti, which is her second home in addition to New Mexico.
- The tattoo represents the participation, assistance to what I create with my hands, as music and poetry. And so it is nice to carry with them a work of art wherever you go, "says Joy, and the crooked smile is back.
The Women's Media Center
Her Pueblo Round Place —A Remembrance of Paula Gunn Allen by Joy Harjo
It was the summer of 1973 when I first met Paula Gunn Allen, the teacher and poet who was destined to create on her own terms a scholarly framework for native women’s culture.
Journey to Kolkata
- by Carolyn Forché
At sunrise each morning, the sound of rhythmic slapping awakens me. Beyond the open window lies the nameless lake—mirroring huts and laundry—where bed linens are struck across the water until they are thought to be clean. A prayerful singing accompanies the work, rising from the voices of invisible washer-women. When I close my eyes even now, I can hear this singing.
NPR: This I Believe
Joy Harjo is a multi-talented artist of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is an internationally known poet, performer, writer and musician.
Art of The Song
This My Heart: How to Blend Native American and Zen Buddhist Wisdom with Modern Painting and Video-Art.
Joy Harjo is a multi-talented artist of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is an internationally known poet, performer, writer and musician. Read more
In a strange kind of sense writing frees me to believe in myself, to be able to speak, to have voice, because I have to; it is my survival. . . http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/joy-harjo
Explore her writing and youll soon find it rich in the auditory imagery of dogs barking, the ground speaking and the moon playing the horn. And yet, sounds do much more than play to the senses in Harjos poetry. We recently had the privilege of catching up with Joy where we discussed the fusion of oral and written poetry, the responsibility of the poet, and the way music penetrates us all. Read More
The Drunken Boat
There are, as it were, two different landscapes present in these poems you've given us . . . Read More
A poetic voice grows and changes naturally, according the human it springs from. . . Read More
Jim Lehrer News Hour
Joy Harjo is a multi-talented artist of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is an internationally known poet, performer, writer and musician. Read More
Southern Scribe http://www.southernscribe.com/zine/poetry/Harjo_Joy.htm
The Bloomsbury Review
Review of Native Joy For Real 2005
In Native Joy, Harjo has given us not only the surprise of a new singing voice (the result of several years of diligent work), but a sax sound that creeps ever closer to that of Coltrane and the high standards she has set for herself.
The Coyote Press Online
Most of my reading of late has been during long flights between Honolulu and the Mainland, beneath a swelling moon.
Native Joy For Real CD
This is the work of a poet at the top of her powers. Read More
Honolulu Star Bulletin
Los Angeles Times
Yesterday in the flare of smoke and temper-- we were brilliant warriors weary from battling each other-- the illuminations of family ghosts bright red in the storm. The century is swept toward an inevitable end-- as summer trees sway beneath thunderclouds, the wind flattening our faces-- Our teeth make refuge for our tongues, skins pulled tight in the vertigo of fear under unbearable pressure. We go on. * From "A Map To the Next World" by Joy Harjo
(W.W. Norton: 142 pp., $22.95)
A Map To The Next World
“Harjo continues to examine the place of Indian people and Indian spirituality today.”
Festival Di Poesia
Native American Pulse
Ahram Weekly Ciaro
Santa Fe Indian Market
Indian Country Today
Iowa Alumni Magazine
Arts of Hope
This My Heart: How to Blend Native American and Zen Buddhist Wisdom with Modern Painting and Video-Art
There are artists who excel at expressing themselves in words. We call them poets. there are still others who are most effective in such expression through music: They are known as musicians. And there are others although far more rare, who are miraculously able to weave the two-words and music—into a form that is infinitely beautiful and as powerful as the artists themselves. Call it Poetic Justice.
South East Missourian
1994/The Woman Who Fell From The Sky
“The leap between the sacred and profane.”
Progressive Good Books Lately
The Woman Who Fell From The Sky
“Harjo is a believer in stories, and a believer in miracles. She finds redemption in words, dreams, kindness, beauty and love.” Link to jpeg
Poet gives her writings and heritage a new voice.
Arizona Daily Sun
The Indian Express
The Miami Herald
The Woman Who Fell From The Sky
“Harjo’s poetry has a mythic sweep that allows her to embrace the primal energies of creation and being.”
The woman Who Fell From The Sky
“One of the most significant American Indian Poets ...”
The New York Times
The Milwaukee Journal
“Harjo/Poetry is a part of culture that flourishes.”