and musician Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek)
has won many awards for her poetry, which is known
for its vivid images and directness. The Oklahoma Center for the
Book honored Harjo in 2003 with both the Arrell Gibson Lifetime
Achievement Award and the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry, in recognition
of her anthology How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems.
An accomplished screenwriter, she has recently written with Scott
Garen the script for A Thousand Roads, directed by Chris
Eyre for regular screening at NMAI. Harjo developed her early
work on the spoken word performance circuit in the Southwest.
She set her words to music with her first band, Joy Harjo and
Poetic Justice, and continues to perform original music today,
releasing the album Native Joy for Real in 2004. Harjo
received an MFA at the University of Iowa and a BA from the University
of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Harjo lives in Honolulu, where she
was a 2003 Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of
"I first loved rhythm and music, listened to the radio and
my mother singing. Begged dimes and quarters to play the jukebox
in the bars and truck stops my mother worked in. Poetry was first
in song lyrics for my ears, though I read everything I could,
especially forbidden texts, and loved Emily Dickinson and the
Song of Solomon.
I have to merge thinking with dreaming. All artists do. The creative
process involves both, and then we rely on gifts from that bright
energy that sets all births into motion."
Screened by NMAI
Image credit: Joy
Harjo - courtesy of the filmmaker