Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light
Fifty Poems for Fifty Years
by Joy Harjo
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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2022
A magnificent selection of fifty poems to celebrate three-term US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s fifty years as a poet.
Over a long, influential career in poetry, Joy Harjo has been praised for her “warm, oracular voice” (John Freeman, Boston Globe) that speaks “from a deep and timeless source of compassion for all” (Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR). Her poems are musical, intimate, political, and wise, intertwining ancestral memory and tribal histories with resilience and love.
In this gemlike volume, Harjo selects her best poems from across fifty years, beginning with her early discoveries of her own voice and ending with moving reflections on our contemporary moment. Generous notes on each poem offer insight into Harjo’s inimitable poetics as she takes inspiration from Navajo horse songs and jazz, reckons with home and loss, and listens to the natural messengers of the earth. As evidenced in this transcendent collection, Joy Harjo’s “poetry is light and elixir, the very best prescription for us in wounded times” (Sandra Cisneros, Millions).
About the Author: Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine poetry collections and two memoirs, most recently Poet Warrior. The recipient of the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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Average rating from 12 members
Joy Harjo's collection of 50 poems for 50 years clearly reflects all of the reasons her work has rapidly risen to its canonical standing, and the presentation of this particular grouping is exceptional.
Anyone who considers reading this book will likely have a sense of what to expect as Harjo has such a characteristic voice and style. Her attention to feminine experience, connection to nature and physical spaces in general, and exploration of deep human truths all come through clearly in the selections published here. As one of the (far too) few indigenous writers who receives regular popular attention, Harjo reveals both culturally relevant and widely accessible themes and motifs. Whether the reader is a practiced explicator of poetry or just coming to the text because that name sounds familiar, everyone will find a way to connect here.
Having been familiar with (and taught) Harjo's work for many years, I expected a fantastic collection of poetry, but the added surprises of Harjo's relatively thorough notes at the end and Sandra Cisneros's warm tribute at the start make this text a fitting culmination of a thus far outstanding career (with hopefully many years and many memorable poems still to come).
I have long been a fan of Joy Harjo and this collection of many of her best poems to reflect on her fifty years as one of America's best poets (and the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate) is a wonderful gift. If you already know her, this is a wonderful review; if not, it is the perfect place to start. Sandra Cisneros provides a warm introduction and Harjo provides some notes at the end about the origins of each poem. Highly recommended.
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