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Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo Releases New Poem, Stops Us In Our Tracks

Joy Harjo is giving us a taste of what’s to come.

Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate
Joy Harjo
Photo credit: Shawn Miller, Library of Congress

Her latest poetry collection, An American Sunrise (paid link), is scheduled for release on Aug. 13. But you can read a poem from the book today.

Harjo published the poem on ELLE Magazine’s website.

The poem, “Advice For Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling,” is a call and response piece.

This format, Harjo writes in an introduction to the poem, “has origins in our Muscogee Creek culture song forms.” (Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.)

Joy Harjo’s having quite a year, so far. In June, she was named the new U.S. Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position.

Harjo’s slated to serve two years as Poet Laureate. She’s the 23rd poet in the role, most recently held by Tracy K. Smith.

Paid link

At the time of the announcement, Harjo didn’t know exactly what she would do in the role. But maybe her intro to “Advice For Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling” gives an indication.

Coming off back-to-back mass shootings, one of which is being attributed to anti-immigrant racism, Harjo’s poem asks us to consider the kind of country in which we want to live.

As she writes in the poem’s intro, “This country is essentially a person. How do we move forward ethically and morally in a way that sustains our collective home, nourishes our collective heart? Poetry is my way of trying to assist in making that road.”

An American Sunrise (paid link) will be Joy Harjo’s ninth book of poems. She’s also published two young adult books and a memoir.

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