Conflict resolution for holy beings Poems

Joy Harjo

Book - 2015

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2nd Floor 811.54/Harjo Due Jul 5, 2022
New York : W. W. Norton & Company [2015]
First edition
Physical Description
xvi, 139 pages ; 22cm
Main Author
Joy Harjo (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The title of Harjo's long-awaited new collection provokes such questions as Why would holy beings be in conflict?, which Harjo answers by suggesting we are the holy ones at odds because we have forgotten all that is holy about us. These poem-songs have a magical quality akin to incantation as they conjure up a collective remembering. Through them, Harjo seems to sing the holy back into the world, sing the world's beauty and love back into being, sing praise for nature's songs, sing self, history, and humanity into a form we can recognize and (hopefully) revere again. Song becomes the vehicle for conflict resolution, built of jazz riffs, blues rhythms, and Native American chants. Harjo's ancestors here are both hereditary and chosen for their musical, poetic, and mythical influences. These honest, innovative poems return us to the essential recognition of a time when "There was no ‘I' or ‘you.' / There was us; there was ‘we.'" Harjo's inspired collection hits home when it tells us, "This is about getting to know each other." Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In her first volume of poetry in more than ten years, Harjo (Crazy Brave), a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation, travels the Trail of Tears, moving from a bend in the Tallapoosa River to the banks of the Arkansas. The poems, typically juxtaposed against short, jazzy prose introductions, are often narrative and as often songs with repeated refrains, even litanies—hardly surprising, as Harjo is a performer as well as a poet. In each poem, there is music that riffs and sings and sometimes drums, as well as a sense of community and connection: "To understand each/ other is profound beyond human words.// This is what I am singing." Yet while the volume is imbued with story and song, tales and invocations, and myth, chants and epistles, at its heart is ceremony, the need to create and re-create, to bless and restore. Ceremony elevates and expiates experience, and in many ways these poems are rituals of becoming, allowing us to heal, to become better, to become again: "Every poem is an effort at ceremony./I ask for a way in." VERDICT A poignant collection that will draw in a range of readers; appropriate for many libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 6/14/15.]—Karla Huston, Appleton, WI [Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Big but fast-moving, and inviting as it expresses tenacity and outrage, Harjo's first collection of verse since her 2012 memoir, Crazy Brave, will please her fans. Harjo's long lines, short prose paragraphs, and song-like lyrics record her Muskogee heritage, her love of jazz ("there's something about a lone horn player blowing ballads at the corners of our lives"), and her high hopes for poetry itself, which creates a means of personal rescue ("we sang our grief to clean the air of turbulent spirits") and a new moral high ground ("songs that aren't paid for/ By the money and influence/ Of rich, fat, corporate gods"). Harjo records and performs music frequently, but some of the songs here do not translate well to the page ("One day I will be tough enough/ One day, I will have love enough/ To go home"). The book is not a new-and-selected, though some nonsong poems have previously appeared in earlier books and may find new life here. Less predictable are pages about living, landscape, and Native heritage in Hawaii—her part-time home—and pages about her visit to "the lands named ‘Alaska' now": these verses and anecdotes give the volume its freshness, even as they take part in Harjo's larger project of Native, and human, solidarity. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A collection of poems details the joys and pains of the everyday seen through the passage of time since the Trail of Tears.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A long-awaited poetry collection by one of our most essential Native American voices.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

San Francisco ChronicleConflict Resolution for Holy Beings