We have a new U.S. Poet Laureate. What is a Poet Laureate? The Library of Congress calls the position “the nation’s official poet.” Through various projects, the Poet Laureate tries “to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.” The new U.S. Poet Laureate is Joy Harjo, 68, a native of Utah and a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation. She is the first Native American to hold this position,
Harjo is the author of eight books of poetry. Her memoir, Crazy Brave, discusses her alcoholic father, abusive stepfather, teen motherhood, a failed first marriage, and living in poverty. Poetry helped her find her voice, a voice she needed “in order to live.” At age 40, she picked up a saxophone for the first time. Since then she has released five albums of original music. One reviewer calls her music a blend of “traditional Native American rhythms and singing with jazz, rock, and blues.”
Harjo’s poetry often celebrates the persistence of Native people. She writes: “We are still America. We / know the rumors of our demise. We spit them out. They die / soon.” In her poem “She Had Some Horses,” she describes the often contradictory “horses” within a woman: “She had some horses she loved. / She had some horses she hated. / These were the same horses.”
In the poem “This Morning I Pray for My Enemies,” Harjo writes: “The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun. / It sees and knows everything. / It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing. The door to the mind should only open from the heart. / An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.”
Harjo says that humanizing and healing will be her aims as Poet Laureate, “a healing of people speaking to each other, with each other.” She adds, “I really believe if people sit together and hear their deepest feelings and thoughts beyond political divisiveness, it makes connections.” You might want to check out her website (www.joyharjo.com.) or Youtube to hear her reciting some of her poems and playing some of her music.
You don’t have to be a poet laureate, however, to write good poetry. I would like to share this little poem written by Donna Butler, a Sister of Providence I met at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Entitled “Dandelion,” the poem suggests that the dandelion should be declared “the patron flower of prophets.”
I declare you
patron flower of prophets.
believe such power
of your soft
poised to take
on the wind
and land in
Did anything in this reflection stand out for you?
Do you use poetry in your prayer?… in your daily life?
Do you ever write poetry?
Our song today is a poem written and performed by Joy Harjo. It’s called “Eagle Poem.” For me, it is a beautiful “description” and experience of prayer… I would love to hear your response to this poem…
So, what are you thinking and feeling right now? My other readers and I would love to hear from you below!