Article abstract: Joy Harjo has published poetry, written screenplays, lectured, and taught in creative writing programs; she is also a jazz musician and artist.
Joy Harjo's collections of poetry express a close relationship to the environment and the particularities of the Native American and white cultures from which she is descended. She is an enrolled member of the Creek tribe, the mother of two children (a son, Phil, and a daughter, Rainy Dawn), and a grandmother. Various forms of art were always a part of her life, even in childhood. Her grandmother and aunt were painters. In high school, she trained as a dancer and toured as a dancer and actress with one of the first Indian dance troupes in the country. When her tour ended, she returned to Oklahoma, where her son was born when she was seventeen years old. She left her son's father to move to New Mexico, enrolling at the university as a premed student. After one semester, she decided that her interest in art was compelling enough to engage in its formal study.
Educated at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she later worked as an instructor, Harjo received a bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico and a master's degree in fine arts from the University of Iowa. She was a professor of English at both the University of Arizona and the University of New Mexico.
Harjo has received numerous awards for her writing, including the William Carlos Williams award from the Poetry Society of America, the Delmore Schwartz Award, the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, and two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Harjo's poetry has been increasingly influenced by her interest in music, especially...
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