Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022, the first Native American to receive the honor, and she is the winner of Yale’s 2023 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.
Harjo has written ten books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed, Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior.
Funding has been provided by Humanities Washington and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the United We Stand Initiative.
Harjo’s many writing awards include the 2022 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Book Critics Circle, the 2019 Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.
The Judges Citation of the Jackson Prize declares, “Harjo’s work speaks not only to the world we live in, but to the unseen world that moves through us, the thread that has connected us all from the start . . . Harjo’s poems embody a rich physicality and movement; they begin in the ear and the eye, they go on to live and hum inside the body . . .Throughout her luminous and substantial body of work, there is a sense of timelessness, of ongoingness, of history repeating; these are poems that hold us up to the truth and insist we pay attention.”
And on behalf of the judges of the Wallace Stevens Award, Alicia Ostriker said: “Throughout her extraordinary career as poet, storyteller, musician, memoirist, playwright and activist, Joy Harjo has worked to expand our American language, culture, and soul.”
As a musician and performer, Harjo has produced seven award-winning music albums including her newest, I Pray for My Enemies. Her album of traditional flute, Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears and Winding Through the Milky Way, won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. She also performs her one-woman show, “Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light,” which premiered at the Wells Fargo Theater in Los Angeles in 2009 with other performances at the Public Theater in NYC and LaJolla Playhouse as part of the Native Voices at the Autry. She has a commission from the Public Theater of NY to write “We Were There When Jazz Was Invented” — a musical play that will restore southeastern natives to the American story of blues and jazz.