Joy Harjo, first American Indian United States Poet Laureate | Heard Museum

Joy Harjo, first American Indian United States Poet Laureate

July 15, 2019

Congratulations to the new United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo. As a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, she is the first Native American to receive the honor since it was established in 1937. Harjo becomes the 23rd person to hold this annual appointment from the Library of Congress and the first from Oklahoma. Commonly held for two consecutive terms, the position was officially named the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress by a 1985 act of Congress.

This honor, announced on June 19th, adds to the national and international recognition of Joy Harjo’s poetry over the past four decades. In a Shenandoah interview this past spring, she was quoted as stating that, “poets have a very particular kind of work, which has to do with taking what is beyond language and making word art—the materials are reality, history, dreams, that which we know but cannot yet perceive.” For Harjo, her Native American voice is an essential part of that work. When her reading is given to open the annual Library of Congress literary series in September, more will be learned about how she intends to leave her mark on the position.

Our forthcoming exhibition Larger Than Memory: Contemporary Art from Indigenous North America was partly inspired by Harjo’s poem Grace – “I know there is something larger than the memory of a dispossessed people. We have seen it.”

For now, these examples from the Library collection celebrating Joy Harjo as an acclaimed poet, an award-winning musician and an accomplished author and playwright are currently on display in the public reading area of the Library. Please feel free to visit the Library to review these or any other items of interest in the Library and Archives collections. For more details or additional collection information, click on the link labeled Library Catalog Search located in the pull-down menu of the Library tab on the Heard Museum website.

Harjo, Joy
Crazy brave : a memoir
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, c2012
Heard call number PS3558.A62423 Z45 2012

Harjo, Joy
How we became human : new and selected poems
New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c2002
Heard call number PS3558.A62423 H69 2002

Harjo, Joy and Paul Lee (illustrator)
The good luck cat
San Diego, CA : Harcourt Brace, 2000
Heard call number OVW: PS3558.A62423 G5 2000

Harjo, Joy and Tanaya Winder
Soul talk, song language : conversations with Joy Harjo
Middletown, Conn. : Wesleyan University Press, c2011
Heard call number PS3558.A62423 Z46 2011