An American sunrise Poems

Joy Harjo

Book - 2019

"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 ... 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 ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice."--Jacket.

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New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company [2019]
Main Author
Joy Harjo (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xiii, 116 pages : map ; 22 cm
  • Prologue
  • Map of the Trail of Tears
  • Break My Heart
  • My grandfather Monahwee
  • Exile of Memory
  • Granddaughters
  • The Fight
  • Directions to You
  • Seven Generations
  • In 1990 a congress
  • Weapons
  • The Story Wheel
  • Once I looked at the moon
  • Washing My Mother's Body
  • There is a map
  • Rising and Falling
  • The Road to Disappearance
  • Mama and Papa Have the Going Home Shiprock Blues
  • My great-grandfather Monahwee
  • How to Write a Poem in a Time of War
  • Mvskoke Mourning Song
  • First Morning
  • Singing Everything
  • Falling from the Night Sky
  • Our knowledge is based
  • For Earth's Grandsons
  • Running
  • A Refuge in the Smallest of Places
  • I'm Nobody! Who Are You?
  • Bourbon and Blues
  • My Great-Aunt Ella Monahwee Jacobs's Testimony
  • Road
  • The Southeast was covered
  • Desire's Dog
  • Dawning
  • Honoring
  • My Man's Feet
  • "I Wonder What You Are Thinking,"
  • For Those Who Would Govern
  • Rabbit Invents the Saxophone
  • When Adolfe Sax patented
  • Let There Be No Regrets
  • Advice for Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling
  • Tobacco Origin Story
  • My aunt Lois Harjo told me
  • Redbird Love
  • We follow the DNA spiral of stories
  • Becoming Seventy
  • Beyond
  • Ren-Toh-Pvrv
  • Memory Sack
  • Every night
  • Cehotosakvtes
  • One March
  • By the Way
  • When we made it down last year
  • Welcoming Song
  • An American Sunrise
  • Bless This Land
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

Harjo, a recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and Wallace Stevens Award, is now the first Native American U.S. poet laureate. This momentous appointment will steer readers to her previous collections; her memoir, Crazy Brave (2012); and to this resplendent and reverberating new volume deeply rooted in tribal and family experiences, nature, land, and tradition. Harjo places swatches of history between her entrancing lyrics like specimens of poisonous plants in a naturalist's log, beginning with President Andrew Jackson's forced removal of Native Americans, including Harjo's ancestors; she then follows the subsequent Trail of Tears back to the White House where the current occupant has hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office. Harjo's bracing political perspective is matched by timeless wisdom as she reflects on her life and lessons learned, and celebrates her time-bending grandfather, saxophone-playing grandmother (Harjo does the same), Earth's bounty, and the transcendent power of song and love. In clarion, incantatory poems that recalibrate heart and mind, Harjo conveys both the endless ripples of loss and the brightening beauty and hope of the sunrise.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Newly named poet laureate and Ruth Lilly prize--winner Harjo (Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings) intertwines verse with prose vignettes, oral histories, and flash memoirs in this expressive and generous book. In a fable about the origins of the saxophone that "made a rip in the sky," she writes: "Musicians are musicians, no trick will get by./ You either have it, or want it/ Nothing else will fly." Harjo exhibits this gift in the tight choreography of these pages, evoking the music of her Muskogee ancestors who were among the native peoples forcibly relocated by Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830. Music is "a sack that carries the bones of those left alongside/ The trail of tears," she writes. Harjo offers poems of lament and praise, pleas for patience and calls to action: "In the fog of thin hope, I wander this sad world/ We've made with the enemy's words." Harjo invites the reader to consider the "many migrations stacked within sky memory," including, most immediately, "the indigenous peoples who are making their way up from the southern hemisphere." "Nothing is ever/ forgotten says the god of remembering," she writes in tones that will speak to readers who are ready to remember, or to learn anew. (Sept.)

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