| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Joy Harjo (Creek)
Joy Harjo is a Creek Indian, born in the heart of
the Creek Nation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduation from the Institute of
American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she subsequently taught there
from 1978 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1984. In 1978 she earned an M.F.A.
after studying at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is a professor
at the University of New Mexico. Along with her continuing poetry, she is
presently involved in writing screenplays and has just completed in
collaboration with an astronomer her fourth book.
Harjo’s poetry is widely praised and recognized. She has seen her work
published in many literary reviews in the United States, as well as in
magazines and anthologies. A cadence marks her work that is reminiscent of the
repetitions of the Indian ceremonial drum, exemplified in the energy and motion
of her “She Had Some Horses.” Her poetic voice and imagery have steadily
developed as she resurrects the carnage of the early conflict between native
and European, “the fantastic and terrible story of our survival” (“Anchorage”
poem), and the rejoicing experienced by those who carry on Indian traditions
and culture. Her work provides a unique perspective and a piquant examination
of American culture from a native point of view. Her verse cries out for the
lost, the dispossessed, and the forgotten of reservation, rural, and urban
America. Her rigorous words pronounce an awakening for those left voiceless in
the past. She relentlessly pursues in print tensions surrounding gender and
ethnicity. She explores the pain of existence and the dream fusion of the
individual with the landscape, especially the mesa-strewn Southwest. Like so
many other Native Americans, Joy Harjo has traveled across the nation and her
poetry reflects the exuberance for sight and sound of the Indian powwow
circuit, moving through the culture of pan-Indian America, and participation in
Indian-related conferences. Her lyricism mirrors the lushness of feel for the
countryside and rich images of the people she encounters. Her work mingles
realism and the philosophy of American Indian spirituality. She recalls the
wounds of the past, the agony of the Indian present, and dream visions of a
better future for indigenous peoples. Her work continues to deal with themes
which call forth rage and elation at the same time. The multiplicity of
emotions she touches is encompassed in her 1983 She Had Some Horses in the
She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.
These were the same horses.
C. B. Clark|
Oklahoma City University
In the Heath Anthology
The Woman Hanging from the Thirteenth Floor Window
We Must Call a Meeting
The Last Song
What Moon Drove Me to This
She Had Some Horses
Secrets from the Center of the World (with Steven Strom)
In Mad Love and War
The Woman Who Fell From the Sky
Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century (compact disk album)
Reinventing the Enemy's Language, ed. with Gloria Bird
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A biography, summary of accolades, and comprehensive selection of works available online.
Native American Authors Project
A biographical sketch, links, and a detailed list of works.
The Academy of American Poets
This web exhibit provides a biography, links, and the text of Deer Dancer.
Voices from the Gaps
Biography, criticism, primary and secondary bibliography, and links.