Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Writers — Joy Harjo
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May 9, 1951 (age 69 years), Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Author, Poet, Performer, Educator, United States Poet Laureate
Poetry, Non-fiction, Fiction
May 9, 1951 (age 71)
Joy Harjo is an American poet, musician, playwright, and author. She is the incumbent United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold that honor. She is also only the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to serve three terms. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century.
Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, and two award-winning children's books, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming. Her books include Poet Warrior (2021), An American Sunrise (2019), Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), Crazy Brave (2012), and How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975–2002 (2004).
Harjo draws on First Nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Her poetry inhabits landscapes — the Southwest, Southeast, but also Alaska and Hawaii — and centers around the need for remembrance and transcendence. Her work is often autobiographical, informed by the natural world, and above all preoccupied with survival and the limitations of language.
“There is no poetry where there are no mistakes.”
“I've always had a theory that some of us are born with nerve endings longer than our bodies”
“I was born with eyes that can never close...”
“All acts of kindness are lights in the war for justice.”