Poetry Crossings February 2022: Joy Harjo Defines Renaissance: Redefining the Boundaries of Culture

february 2022 joy harjo kathy ellis native american poet laureate poetry crossings redefining boundaries of culture Feb 15, 2022

By Kathy Ellis

Joy Harjo Defines Renaissance: Redefining the Boundaries of Culture

Joy Harjo is on her second term as the United States’ 23rd Poet Laureate, having written nine books of poetry and other genres in addition to being a professor, musician, and performer. Joy Harjo is of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Joy Harjo is a force. She is the first Native American poet laurate, and a performer who weaves her music, singing, stories, and poetry while collaborating with other musicians. 

One could select any poem from Harjo’s poetry collection to find it applicable to our intercultural and DEI fields. Here is one such example:

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies

And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
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.

Other resources: 

This Morning I Pray for My Enemies - YouTube

Joy Harjo recites her poem and plays the saxophone

Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: Joy Harjo - YouTube

Welcome to a powerful performance

Joy Harjo Official Site - Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo posts various events and performance clips