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Joy  Harjo

Joy Harjo

Poet / Performer / Filmmaker


An enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation, Joy 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. 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, Secrets from the Center of the WorldRead More >

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.  She is also a member of the National Council on the Arts.

Harjo narrated the Native Americans series on Turner Network 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. She was featured on Aboriginal Public Television in Canada and on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

Harjo also performs nationally and internationally, solo and with her band for which she plays alto saxophone.  She and her band were invited guests of the Olympics in Atlanta, GA and have opened for and performed with Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and Toad the Wet Sprocket. 

Her first was Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century and was a finalist in the first National Native Music Awards. Her second music CD of original songs, Native Joy crosses over many genres. She co-produced a music video for one of the songs, “Eagle Song” that is 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. Her third release is a spoken word CD titled She Had Some Horses. She is in the studio working on her fourth musical release, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light.

Her photographs were featured in the show Looking Indian at the Untitled ArtSpace Gallery in Oklahoma City. Harjo also writes a monthly column for her tribal newspaper The Muscogee Nation News and is the Joseph M. Russo endowed professor at UNM in creative writing through Fall 2007. She is also a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation in Oklahoma.

A graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, she has 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. Read Less ^

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