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Joy Harjo to Share Her Native American Poetry and Music
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Joy Harjo will perform music, in addition to sharing her poetry, on July 31 at The Community Library. COURTESY: The Community Library
   
Saturday, May 11, 2024
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Three-time U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo will deliver the 2024 Hemingway Distinguished Lecture on behalf of The Community Library in Ketchum.

The free event will start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, on the Library’s Donaldson Robb Family Lawn. Space is limited; save your seat at https://thecommunitylibrary.libcal.com/event/12027349. The program will be livestreamed but not available for later viewing.

"Joy Harjo’s poetry is infused with indigenous myths and values, and her words speak deeply to the connections we all have to each other and to the natural world,” said Martha Williams, the library’s director of programs and education. “She meditates on remembering and transcending, but also on living in the beautiful and painful moments of daily existence. She is also a musician (saxophone and flute) and singer, and during the lecture she’ll share with us these many modes of storytelling.”

Harjo is the first Native American to serve as U.S. Poet Laureate and only the second to serve three terms after Robert Plinsky. A member of the Muscogee Nation, she grew up in Tulsa, Okla., the daughter of a father who was an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee Nation and a mother who identified as a Cherokee descendent.

She wrote her first poem in eighth grade, then attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, a BIA boarding school in Santa Fe, N.M. for high school.

Her ten books of poetry include Weaving Sundown in a Scarlett Light, An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. Her children’s books include Remember and For a Girl Becoming. She is also the author of two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, which invite readers to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road.

Crazy Brave will be the subject of The Community Library’s ongoing book club on Wednesday, June 5, which is open to the public.

Harjo has also edited several anthologies of Native American writing including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, and Living Nations, Living Words, the companion anthology to her signature poet laureate project.

She has released seven CDs featuring her original music and that of other Native American artists. She has taught at several schools, including the Institute of American Indian Arts, Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico.

Her students at the University of New Mexico included Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

The annual Hemingway Distinguished Lecture celebrates the power of words and the creative spirit in a landscape that Ernest Hemingway loved. It is presented each July, honoring the month of Hemingway’s birth and death. Past distinguished lecturers include Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr and Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco.

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