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Joy Harjo

Poet / Performer / Filmmaker


Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, OK, and is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation. She is a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and has also received a BA from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the University of Iowa's Creative Writing Workshop. She completed both the filmmaking program at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe and a songwriting workshop at Berkelee School of Music in Boston.

Harjo has published seven books of poetry: "The Last Song;" "What Moon Drove Me to This?;" "She Had Some Horses;" "In Mad Love and War;" "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky;" "A Map to the Next World" and her most recent "How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems." Another recent publication is a children's book, "The Good Luck Cat." She has also co-edited an anthology of native women's writing: "Reinventing the Enemy's Language," "Native Women's Writing of North America" and a book of poetic prose with photographs by Stephen Strom, "Secrets from the Center of the World." Also published is a book of interviews edited by Laura Coltelli, "The Spiral of Memory," forthcoming is a book of stories, "A Love Supreme."

She has received several awards for her writing, including the 2002 Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the 2001 American Indian Festival of Words Author Award from the Tulsa City County Library, the 2000 Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, 1998 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, the 1997 New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, the poetry award from the Oklahoma Center for the Arts, and the Oklahoma Book Arts Award. She is also a member of the National Council on the Arts.

Harjo was the narrator for the Native Americans series on Turner Network and more recently the narrator for the Emmy Award-winning show, "Navajo Codetalkers" for National Geographic. She has collaborated with the Mohican composer and musician Brent Michael Davids on commissions "Crow," from the Phoenix Boy's Choir and "She is One of Us" for the Racine Chorus. In April 2002, she was featured on Aboriginal Public Television in Toronto, Canada performing with the house band and in August she was featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

Harjo also performs nationally and internationally, solo and with her band for which she plays alto saxophone. Her performances have taken her to the Middle East, India, Europe, and North and South America. She and her band were invited guests of the Olympics in Atlanta, GA and have opened for and performed with many groups, including the Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and Toad the Wet Sprocket. Most recently she has appeared at the Ordway Center for t he Arts in St. Paul, MN, Butler University, the University of Arizona, the Chopin Theater in Chicago and the Ikon in Palo Alto, CA.

Her first CD, "Letter From the End of the Twentieth Century" was released by Silverwave Records in 1997. In 1998, they were honored by the First Americans in the Arts with the award for Outstanding Musical Achievement. The CD was also a finalist that year in eight categories for the first National Native Music Awards. Her new music CD, "Native Joy" was released in the spring of 2003. She co-produced with Hawaiian videographer, Lurline McGregor, a music video for one of the featured songs, "Eagle Song." The video has been featured at several film festivals and was nominated for Best Music Video at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco. Harjo was awarded their top award, the Eagle Spirit Award. She is also at work with tribal members on a Mvsoke almanac and is currently a full professor at UCLA in English and American Indian Studies.


Joy Harjo in Performance

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