Selected as a Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2021 by Bookshop staff:
Reading poet laureate Joy Harjo’s memoir is like soaking in peaceful, healing waters. We're introduced to the Poet Girl and stanza by stanza, chapter by chapter, we come to know her as the Poet Warrior. Through the telling of her own historical trauma, Harjo gently, with great understanding and wisdom, helps us to see how we can sit with and talk to the broken parts of our own story and retell it to ourselves as an act of grieving, healing, and maybe even strength. I will give this book to my sisters and my friends knowing that what is experienced in reading this book is more than I could ever say myself, and everything I want them to know.
An ALA Notable Book
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.