Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo, a Native American born in Oklahoma, challenges the prevailing boundaries of southwestern writers. She moves with ease among the various tribes of the region, and her poetry has been influenced not only by her own Creek traditions, but by the Navajo Beauty Way (like Luci Tapahanso), and by Pueblo stories (as in the work of Simon Ortiz). At home in the mesas, mountains, and sagebrush flats of New Mexico and Arizona, her work is grounded in her relationship to the earth, on a physical, spiritual, and mythopoetic level. Like fellow Oklahoman and Native American poet Linda Hogan, Harjo's writing contains a disturbing mixture of darkness and beauty, at once a lament and a moving incantation.

"Sacred space--I call it a place of grace, or the place in which we're most human--the place in which there's a unity of human-ness with wolf-ness, with hummingbird-ness, with Sandia Mountain-ness with rain cloud-ness? . . .It's that place in which we understand there is no separation between worlds. It has everything to do with the way we live. The land is responsible for the clothes you have on, for my saxophone, for the paper that I write these things on, for our bodies. It's responsible for everything."

-Joy Harjo

Click here to hear an excerpt on Joy Harjo from Writing the Southwest.