“Joy Harjo is a world treasure, rare and formidable amongst poets writing today, with a voice equal parts wise woman, jazz, rain, and earth. Her collected poems bring together the full range of her work, an impressive spectrum of word magic that is timeless, necessary, and informed by the history of her people, traditions of storytelling and song. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, her many awards include the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and others. She is also a noted teacher, and an accomplished saxophonist.” — The Jitney
Joy Harjo took time out of her busy schedule this week to answer the following questions for the Jitney.
What do you most want readers to gain from the experience of reading your poetry?
Joy Harjo: I’d like for readers to see that poetry is not without a door, or many doors. I loved poetry as a child but not the way it was taught. How were we supposed to know what the poet meant, especially when they were from England of a century or two before (or what felt like a century or two before) and spoke differently? If you tell someone to read a poem the way you’d listen to a song of their favorite music, it might change perception. I’d like to hand them a poetry that would give them the notion that yes, you can write about what you see, hear, know, from their own familial, cultural or historical point of view. And maybe the readers will feel motivated to write their own songs, stories and poems.