Joy Harjo is a poet, musician, daughter and mother and descendent, member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and a poet laureate of the United States. She writes with urgent beauty of just anger and beautiful celebration, of past crimes (whose resonance is both felt and resurrected today), legacy, present joy, music and song, the immediacy of being human, and the specificity of being Native. Her words stick with the brightness of specific stars, of a greater whole winding its story still.
A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land.
In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest—and most complicated—poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.
About the Author
Joy Harjo is the author of eight poetry collections and a memoir, Crazy Brave. The recipient of the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and 2015 Wallace Stevens Award, she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she is a Tulsa Artist Fellow.
Full of celebration, crisis, brokenness, and healing. — Daisy Fried
If you only read one book of poems this summer, make it An American Sunrise.... Every step of the journey is deeply moving... Rich and deeply engaging, An American Sunrise creates bridges of understanding while reminding readers to face and remember the past.
— Elizabeth Lund
While the subject matter of her new poems continuously hits you in the gut, Harjo brings a sense of resilience to that dark history. — Christian Allaire
Radiant... [A] profound, brilliantly conceived song cycle celebrating ancestors, present and future generations, historic endurance and fresh beginnings. — Jane Ciabattari
An American Sunrise is a wisdom quest as Joy Harjo returns to the place of her ancestors. This haunting and breathtaking book invokes the relocation of the southeastern peoples, of what they endured and lost. Harjo is a visionary and a truth sayer, and her expansive imagination sweeps time, interpolating history into the present. She writes: 'Rivers are the old roads, as are songs, to traverse memory.' Creating a confluence of words, a new language for storytelling arises. An American Sunrise is a powerful tour de force.
— Elise Paschen, author of The Nightlife
Resplendent and reverberating... Harjo's bracing political perspective is matched by timeless wisdom... In clarion, incantatory poems that recalibrate the heart and mind, Harjo conveys both the endless ripples of loss and the brightening beauty and hope of the sunrise.