Joy Harjo’s Opening Reading as Poet Laureate, September 19, Will be Live-streamed by the Library of Congress; Joy Harjo reading “Remember”

Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States. Photo by Shawn Miller, Library of Congress.

“I’ve always had a theory that some of us are born with nerve endings longer than our bodies”  Joy Harjo, In Mad Love and War



Harjo photographed by the Library of Congress in 2019, upon her nomination as Poet Laureate

Joy Harjo will give her inaugural reading as the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19. The event will take place in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book signing will follow.

The program is free and open to the public, but tickets are required and there may be special restrictions. For more information and to secure tickets, visit this event ticketing site HERE.

Harjo’s reading will be live-streamed on the Library’s Facebook page and its YouTube site (with closed captions).

Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate.



The official seal of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation by Muscogee Red under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a federally recognized Native American tribe based in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The nation descends from the historic Creek Confederacy, a large group of indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands. Official languages include Muscogee, Yuchi, Natchez, Alabama, and Koasati, with Muscogee retaining the largest number of speakers. They commonly refer to themselves as Este Mvskokvlke (pronounced [isti məskógəlgi]). Historically, they were often referred to as one of the Five Civilized Tribes of the American Southeast.



The historic reading marks the beginning of Harjo’s laureateship, which traditionally launches the Library’s 2019-2020 literary season. This year, it is also part of the Library’s new National Book Festival Presents series, featuring high-caliber authors, their books and related Library treasures.

Photo courtesy of Joy Harjo. Photographer: Karen Kuehn

In addition to reading from her repertoire of poems spanning a 40-year career, Harjo, who is an award-winning musician, also will perform with bassist Howard Cloud and keyboardist Robert Muller.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed Harjo the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in June. Hayden says that Harjo’s poems tell “an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, Harjo has written eight books of poetry, including Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W. W. Norton, 2015); The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), winner of the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her most recent book of poetry is An American Sunrise was published by W. W. Norton this month.

Joy Harjo’s memoir, Crazy Brave (W. W. Norton, 2012) won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction. In addition, Harjo has written a children’s book, The Good Luck Cat (Harcourt, Brace 2000), and a young adult book, For a Girl Becoming (University of Arizona Press, 2009).

AWARDS: Harjo’s many literary awards include the PEN Open Book Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

Harjo has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Witter Bynner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her collection How We Become Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001” (W. W. Norton, 2002) was selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its Big Read program. Her recent honors include the Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers (2019), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation (2017) and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets (2015). In 2019, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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This post is courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Amazon, Wikipedia, The Poetry Society, my bookshelf, and Joy Harjo.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. To this end, the center administers the endowed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry position, coordinates an annual season of readings, performances, lectures, conferences and symposia; sponsors high-profile prizes and fellowships for literary writers; and offers a range of digital initiatives to further its mission and reach. For more information, visit.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Cheyenne and Arapaho Novelist Tommy Orange Wins $25K PEN/Hemingway Award for “There There’

“We are the memories we don’t remember, which live in us, which we feel, which make us sing and dance and pray the way we do, feelings from memories that flare and bloom unexpectedly in our lives like blood through a blanket from a wound made by a bullet fired by a man shooting us in the back for our hair, for our heads, for a bounty, or just to get rid of us.”  Tommy Orange, There There


Notes:

  • Séan Hemingway [Ernest’s grandson] To Present Award During Ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, April 7, 2019
  • There There is also Amazon’s Best Book of 2018

Critically-acclaimed debut author Tommy Orange is the winner of the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award for his novel There There (Knopf, 2018), PEN America announced today. Honoring a distinguished first novel, Tommy Orange will receive $25,000 underwritten by the Hemingway Family and the Hemingway Foundation, as well as a month-long Residency Fellowship valued at $10,000 at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, a retreat for artists and writers.  Séan Hemingway, the grandson of the American writer Ernest Hemingway, will present the prestigious literary award to Tommy Orange on Sunday, April 7, during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Orange’s There There illuminates the lives of urban Native Americans, and explores their struggles with identity and authenticity. This year’s judges—authors Cristina Garcia, Dinaw Mengestu, and Scott Simon—called There There a “devastatingly beautiful novel, as acutely attuned to our current cultural and political condition as it is to the indelible legacy of violence that brought us here.”  The judges added that “The breadth and scope of this novel are matched only by the fierce and relentless intelligence that Orange brings to his characters, who despite tragedy, heartbreak and loss, reside in a remarkable world of hard-earned grace.”

“Orange’s novel is striking in its range and depth, and it is exceptional for a debut novel to disrupt and expand the landscape of American fiction the way that There There has,” said Literary Awards Program Director Nadxieli Nieto. “It is exactly this kind of groundbreaking work that the PEN/ Hemingway Award honors.”


“She told me the world was made of stories, nothing else, just stories, and stories about stories.” Tommy Orange, There There


Tommy Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, and was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. Orange joins other notable PEN/Hemingway winners and honorees including Marilynne Robinson, Edward P. Jones, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colson Whitehead, Jennifer Haigh, ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Ha Jin, Yiyun Li, Teju Cole, and Ottessa Moshfegh—a four-decade lineage of literary excellence founded in 1976 by Mary Hemingway, the widow of Ernest Hemingway, to honor her late husband and draw attention to debut novels. (See the complete list here.)

The two PEN/Hemingway runners-up are Akwaeke Emezi for Freshwater (Grove) and Ling Mafor Severance (Macmillan). Two writers will receive Honorable Mention: Meghan Kenny for The Driest Season (W.W. Norton) and Nico Walker for Cherry (Knopf). Runners-up and Honorable Mentions each receive a Residency Fellowship at the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming.


“Opal and Jacquie’s mom never let them kill a spider if they found one in the house, or anywhere for that matter. Her mom said spiders carry miles of web in their bodies, miles of story, miles of potential home and trap. She said that’s what we are. Home and trap.”  Tommy Orange, There There

This feature is courtesy of PEN America. Book cover illustrations courtesy of Knopf.


The PEN/Hemingway Award Ceremony will take place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on Sunday, April 7, from 2 to 3pm and is free and open to the public. Renowned novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen will be the keynote speaker.  Those interested in attending should call the library at (617) 514-1643 or register online at www.jfklibrary.org to reserve a seat.

The PEN/Hemingway Award Ceremony is supported by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Hemingway Family, and the Friends of the Ernest Hemingway Collection.

The Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library spans Hemingway’s entire career, and contains ninety percent of existing Hemingway manuscript materials, making the Kennedy Library the world’s principal center for research on the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis described Mary Hemingway’s gift of Ernest Hemingway’s papers to the Kennedy Library as helping “to fulfill our hopes that the Library will become a center for the study of American civilization, in all its aspects.”

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.  

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is one of fourteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and is supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.


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“Survivance” … the task of refusing erasure

SurvivanceMichael Watson ~ After a couple of days of warmth and rain, today is seasonably cold. Next week is forecast to be very warm again, an unnerving scenario as we rely on the snow pack for our summer water supply.

Climate change is a complex issue, not so much because there is doubt that it is human caused and accelerating, but because it affects people unevenly. Here in Vermont folks are divided about the issue. Many are appreciative of our much briefer and milder winters. Others lament the loss of tourism jobs, the declining maple forests, and the increasing number of failed drinking water wells.

Much of the divide in opinion can be linked to whether a person lives their life inside or outside. City folk tend to lament cold, snowy, inconvenient weather. Those who spend most of their days outside are more likely to have a keen sense of the problems and losses that come with global climate change.

Those about to assume leadership of the United States deny climate change. They also reject ideas of diversity,  stewardship, and mutual responsibility and community. But you already know this. What you may not know is that many idolize Andrew Jackson. Jackson defied the Supreme Court and stole the lands and farms of Naive people in the Southeast, sending The People on a Trail of Tears. He is so hated in Indian Country that many Native people refuse to use twenty-dollar bills.

Somehow, a few families managed to avoid deportation. I like to imagine they lived up in distant hollows or in the dense forested swamps of the river bottoms.

My father’s family identified as Native, although they refused to tell us younger ones what tribes we hail from. (They did instill in us a deep sense that governments can’t be trusted.) They grew up in Indiana at a time when being Native could cost you your farm, or your life. My understanding is that after my grandfather left the family, my grandmother moved the farm to a rocky, inhospitable, spectacularly beautiful location overlooking the Ohio River. She correctly assumed they would be safe there. My dad and his siblings walked downhill to school, then back up to home. Once, dad took me to see the homestead, in what is now a state park. It took us almost two hours to hike up. (No doubt my Polio body slowed us down.)

A few years ago I was introduce to the idea of “survivance.” The term was apparently a legal term in the Eighteenth Century,  but was adapted for Native use by Jerald Vizenor, a much venerated Native Studies scholar who is no longer here in physical form. The term refers to active survival, a continued presence even as we are supposed to have been erased from the land.

I like to think of survivance as the task of refusing erasure. Beyond that, it is the art of living well in the face of hatred and genocide. I imagine the concept of continuing to live well while under threat might be applicable to the situation of many of us in 2017. (My wife, Jennie, a Jewess, contends that the term applies perfectly to folks who resisted the Holocaust, and I suspect she is right.) Survivance implies asking important questions and making difficult choices. When does one openly resist? When does one hide or, if possible, pass? How do we find and nurture joy, family, and community in the face of hatred?

For me, there is an even more fundamental definition of survivance: the task of nurturing and protecting the soul in the face of those who would obliterate it. We need to save our souls, (individual, cultural, and collective) from those who would destroy them, for soul loss is excruciatingly painful and may impact many generations. (Make no mistake, Jackson and his ilk wanted nothing less than the destruction of the Native soul; those who idealize him now want nothing less than the destruction of all that is “Other”.)

Perhaps we can learn something about survivance from those who came before us. There is much to be said for living on land no one else desires, holding ceremony in the deep night, and pretending to be one of the majority. There is much to gain from building coalitions, going to court, and telling our stories to a larger audience. There is much to be won from making, and sharing, art, music, and literature. My guess is that we will need to draw from all these, and more, during the years to come.

© Michael Watson
Excerpt from the January issue of The BeZine and published here with Michael’s permission.

michael-drum

If you have time enough to follow only one blog, make it Michael’s:

MICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World and Journey Works)  is a contributing editor to The BeZine, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, a psychotherapist, educator, and an artist of Native American and European descent.

Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he recently retired from his teaching position in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there.  He also had wonderful experiences teaching in India and Hong Kong, which are documented on his blog, Dreaming the World. In childhood Michael had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (18): Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave

Joy Harjo (b 1951), Mvskoke (Creek) Poet, Musician, author and key player in the second wave of the Native Merican Renaissance (literary efflorescence)

Joy Harjo (b 1951), Mvskoke (Creek) Poet, Musician, author and key player in the second wave of the Native American literary efflorescence

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 Crazy Brave (Norton & Company, 2012), Joy Harjo’s eminently engaging memoir, flows like a long prose poem. It is rich and well-built on a foundation of tribal mythologies, a strong sense of her ancestry, her difficult childhood and youth and salvation found in poetry and music. From her birth to a handsome much-loved fire-spirit father who inherited Indian oil money, allowing him to indulge a passion for cars, and her beautiful water-spirit singer-mother whose voice was stilled by a bully of a second-husband, Harjo tells the story of girl who survived a physically and emotionally abusive step-father, crushing poverty and the greater cultural obscenities to become one of our most influential poets and a formidable advocate for justice for Native Americans and liberation for women.

I was entrusted with carrying voices, songs, and stories to grow and release into the world, to be of assistance and inspiration. These were my responsibility.”

*****

I can’t imagine the human being who wouldn’t relate to Joy Harjo’s history, but those who have come from “broken” homes, poverty and a family of mixed ethnicity will most especially appreciate it and perhaps find some healing and strength in the pages of Crazy Brave. That Joy Harjo survived so much to become a decent loving person leaves the rest of us with no excuse; and any writer, poet or musician will take to heart the dreams and visions of that long journey to find hope and creative voice in poetry.

Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke tribe was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an area where the Native American trail of tears ended, an area to which the indigenous peoples were removed – forced to relocate –  as people of European descent moved into their original home places. The removed were the Five Civilized Tribes – Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Mvkoke and Seminole  – who were living as autonomous nations in what is now the American Deep South.

“I fought through the War Between the States and have seen many men shot, but the Cherokee Removal was the cruelest work I ever knew”. Georgian soldier who participated in the removal

*****

When the World as We Knew It Ended
It was coming.
We had been watching since the eve of the missionaries in their long
and solemn clothes, to see what would happen.
We saw it
from the kitchen window over the sink
as we made coffee, cooked rice and potatoes
enough for an army.
We saw it all, as we changed diapers and fed
the babies. We saw it,
through the branches of the knowledgeable tree,
through the snags of stars, through
the sun and storms, from our knees
as we bathed and washed the floors …
The conference of the birds warned us as they flew over
destroyers in the harbor, parked there since the first takeover.
It was by their songs and talk we knew when to rise,
when to look out the window

excerpt from When the World Ended in How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004)

*****

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Joy Harjo’s poetry and music are influenced by her ethnic heritage and her feminist and social concerns as well as by her love of word and sound and her education in the arts. Largely autobiographical, her poetry is informed with descriptions of the Southwestern landscape and the mythologies, symbols and values of the Mvskoke people. Hers is the sort of writing that sits with you to become part of your own bone and marrow, which is the way of good poetry and good story. A poet of the people but also a critically-acclaimed poet, her many awards include the Wallace Stevens Award of the Academy of American Poets, The William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the American Indian Distinguished Achiement in the Arts Award. She is the recipient of several grants and is a teacher, musician (saxophone) and singer.  She has published some fourteen books and ten music albums.

It was a dance,
her back against the wall
at Carmen’s party. He was alone
and he called to her – come here, come here
that was the firs time she saw him
and later she and Carmen drove him home
and all the way he talked to the moon,
to the stars, to someone riding

excerpt from There Was a Dance, Sweetheart in How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (1975-2022) (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004) © Joy Harjo

If you are reading this post from email, you will likely have to link though to this blog to enjoy the video. Joy Harjo’s Eagle Song, poem and music:

© review, Jamie Dedes; poems, Joy Harjo, photographs courtesy of Ms Harjo