Joy Harjo cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Joy Harjo

American Poet Laureate

1951   -  

genre: poetry
country of citizenship: United States of America
languages spoken, written or signed: English
educated at: University of New Mexico, University of Iowa, Institute of American Indian Arts
occupation: poet, musician, writer, children's writer, screenwriter, teacher, climate activist
award received: PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, American Book Awards
influenced by: Leslie Marmon Silko, Flannery O'Connor, Simon J. Ortiz

Joy Harjo ( HAR-joh; born May 9, 1951) is an American poet, musician, playwright, and author. She is the incumbent United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold that honor. She is also only the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to serve three terms. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Nation (Este Mvskokvlke) and belongs to Oce Vpofv (Hickory Ground). She is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century. She studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, completed her undergraduate degree at University of New Mexico in 1976, and earned an MFA degree at the University of Iowa in its creative writing program. In addition to writing books and other publications, Harjo has taught in numerous United States universities, performed internationally at poetry readings and music events, and released seven albums of her original music. Harjo is the author of nine books of poetry, and two award-winning children's books, The Good Luck Cat and For a Girl Becoming. Her books include Poet Warrior (2021), An American Sunrise (2019), Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), Crazy Brave (2012), and How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975–2002 (2004). She was a recipient of the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Tulsa Artist Fellowship, among other honors. In 2019, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Harjo founded For Girls Becoming, an art mentorship program for young Mvskoke women and is a Founding Board Member and Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation. Her signature project to date as U.S. Poet Laureate is called "Living Nations, Living Words: A Map of First Peoples Poetry," which focuses on "mapping the U.S. with Native Nations poets and poems."
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