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Joy Har­jo

About

Joy Har­jo, the 23rd Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States, is a mem­ber of the Mvskoke Nation and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hick­o­ry Ground). She is only the sec­ond poet to be appoint­ed a third term as U.S. Poet Laureate.

Born in Tul­sa, Okla­homa, she left home to attend high school at the inno­v­a­tive Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, which was then a Bureau of Indi­an Affairs school. Har­jo began writ­ing poet­ry as a mem­ber of the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mexico’s Native stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion, the Kiva Club, in response to Native empow­er­ment move­ments. She went on to earn her MFA at the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop and teach Eng­lish, Cre­ative Writ­ing, and Amer­i­can Indi­an Stud­ies at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­­for­­nia-Los Ange­les, Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mex­i­co, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona, Ari­zona State, Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado, Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i, Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, and Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee, while per­form­ing music and poet­ry nation­al­ly and internationally.

Har­jo is the author of nine books of poet­ry, includ­ing her most recent, the high­ly acclaimed An Amer­i­can Sun­rise (2019), which was a 2020 Okla­homa Book Award Win­ner; Con­flict Res­o­lu­tion for Holy Beings (2015), which was short­list­ed for the Grif­fin Prize and named a Notable Book of the Year by the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion; and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received an Amer­i­can Book Award and the Del­more Schwartz Memo­r­i­al Award. Her first mem­oir, Crazy Brave, was award­ed the PEN USA Lit­er­ary Award in Cre­ative Non Fic­tion and the Amer­i­can Book Award, and her sec­ond, Poet War­rior: A Mem­oir, was released from W.W. Nor­ton in Fall 2021.

She has pub­lished two award-win­n­ing children’s books, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becom­ing; a col­lab­o­ra­tion with photographer/​astronomer Stephen Strom; an anthol­o­gy of North Amer­i­can Native women’s writ­ing; sev­er­al screen­plays and col­lec­tions of prose inter­views; and three plays, includ­ing Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morn­ing Light, A Play, which she toured as a one-woman show and was recent­ly pub­lished by Wes­leyan Press.

She is Exec­u­tive Edi­tor of the anthol­o­gy When the Light of the World was Sub­dued, Our Songs Came Through — A Nor­ton Anthol­o­gy of Native Nations Poet­ry and the edi­tor of Liv­ing Nations, Liv­ing Words: An Anthol­o­gy of First Peo­ples Poet­ry, the com­pan­ion anthol­o­gy to her sig­na­ture Poet Lau­re­ate project fea­tur­ing a sam­pling of work by 47 Native Nations poets through an inter­ac­tive arcgis Sto­ry Map and a new­ly devel­oped Library of Con­gress audio collection.

Harjo’s awards for poet­ry include the Ruth Lily Prize for Life­time Achieve­ment from the Poet­ry Foun­da­tion, the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets Wal­lace Stevens Award, the New Mex­i­co Governor’s Award for Excel­lence in the Arts, a PEN USA Lit­er­ary Award, Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund Writ­ers’ Award, the Poets & Writ­ers Jack­son Poet­ry Prize, a Ras­mu­son US Artist Fel­low­ship, two NEA fel­low­ships, and a Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship. Her poet­ry will be includ­ed on a plaque on LUCY, a NASA space­craft launch­ing in Fall 2021 and the first recon­nais­sance of the Jupiter Trojans.

Har­jo per­forms with her sax­o­phone and flutes, solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynam­ics Band, and pre­vi­ous­ly with Joy Har­jo and Poet­ic Jus­tice. She/​they have toured across the U.S. and in Europe, South Amer­i­ca, India, Africa, and Cana­da. Har­jo has pro­duced sev­en award-win­ning music albums includ­ing Wind­ing Through the Milky Way, for which she was award­ed a NAM­MY for Best Female Artist of the year, and her newest album, I Pray for My Enemies.

In addi­tion to serv­ing as a three-term U.S. Poet Lau­re­ate, Har­jo is a chan­cel­lor of the Acad­e­my of Amer­i­can Poets, holds a Tul­sa Artist Fel­low­ship, directs For Girls Becom­ing, an arts men­tor­ship pro­gram for young Mvskoke women, and is a found­ing board mem­ber and Chair of the Native Arts and Cul­tures Foun­da­tion. She has recent­ly been induct­ed into the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Let­ters, the Amer­i­can Philo­soph­i­cal Soci­ety, the Nation­al Native Amer­i­can Hall of Fame, and the Nation­al Woman’s Hall of Fame.

She lives in Tul­sa, Oklahoma.

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