Poet Warrior: A Memoir - book cover
Arts & Literature
  • Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition
  • Published : 07 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 240
  • ISBN-10 : 0393248526
  • ISBN-13 : 9780393248524
  • Language : English

Poet Warrior: A Memoir

National bestseller

Three-term poet laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life.

Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate, invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her "poet-warrior" road. A musical, kaleidoscopic, and wise follow-up to Crazy Brave, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice.

Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, and the messengers of a changing earth―owls heralding grief, resilient desert plants, and a smooth green snake curled up in surprise. She celebrates the influences that shaped her poetry, among them Audre Lorde, N. Scott Momaday, Walt Whitman, Muscogee stomp dance call-and-response, Navajo horse songs, rain, and sunrise. In absorbing, incantatory prose, Harjo grieves at the loss of her mother, reckons with the theft of her ancestral homeland, and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member.

Moving fluidly between prose, song, and poetry, Harjo recounts a luminous journey of becoming, a spiritual map that will help us all find home. Poet Warrior sings with the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.

10 photographs

Readers Top Reviews

Mitch Smith.Carol Cr
"Poet Warrior" is so much more than a book: it is revelation, a testimony, a sacred song, a love poem . Joy Harjo is a true national treasure.
Through the stories of her life in this memoir, I learned the sense of rootlessness or loss of tribal identity that many indigenous people in the U.S. feel. I learned of their sturggles and how they are spiritual seekers and how they need their ancestral roots. The stories are not chronological but the total picture is clear. The poetry is injected at just the right points in her story. I learned of other indigenous writers and poets that I now want to explore.
D. W. Trimm
I have always been a fan of this writer’s poetry, so when I heard she had an autobiography, I pre-ordered it. Then, when I heard the interview on NPR with Terry Gross (Fresh Air), I knew I had to play it for my 10th grade English students, as we were already celebrating First Nation voices. I’ve never experienced such engagement as we read and discussed “Poet Warrior Reaches for a Gun.” All my students related in some way. All left wanting to borrow my book. In fact, I may need to order a class set! This country is so fortunate to have Harjo as our three-term poet laureate! She’s a national treasure!
Tim Amsden
This moving, mythic, and poetec memoir belongs beside Momaday's House Made of Dawn, and it is as deserving of a Pulitzer. Joy Harjo is a Native saxophone-playing Joseph Campbell and her prose is as lyrical and poetic as her poetry. I am very grateful for this book.
Stephen M. Page
Poet Warrior The oral tradition morphs into written language. Music and poetry become one. The genocided and bigotried lose then find opportunity. In "The Poet Warrior," Joy Harjo memoirs herself, voices a people, histories a nation, and spiritually connects everything in the universe. The stories in this memoir enthrall the reader, teach the unlearned, justify the transcendent, and inspire writers of all genres.

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