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Joy Harjo

  • it is frustrating to name someone or something when in / the real world all is in motion, in a state of change. / That's why there is a danger when you try to name with / one name what is many, has no sides and is round.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • ... poetry can work with the / language, manipulate it so that it can embrace those / concepts, visions, times and places that the language / in and of itself can't do.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • This city is made of stone, of blood, and fish.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Anchorage," in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Remember," in Joseph Bruchac, ed., Songs From This Earth on Turtle's Back ()
  • ... this poem isn't for you / but for me / after all.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Your Phone Call at Eight a.m.," in Rayna Green, ed., That's What She Said ()
  • And knew he was one of the ones who yearned / for something his heart wasn't big enough / to handle.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "New Orleans," in Rayna Green, ed., That's What She Said ()
  • All poets / understand the final uselessness of words. We are chords to / other chords to other chords, if we're lucky, to melody.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Bird," In Mad Love and War ()
  • ... when you were born I held you wet and unfolding, like a butterfly newly born from the chrysalis of my body.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Rainy Dawn," In Mad Love and War ()
  • I have more questions than answers in this world as do most poets and writers. The field of memory we exist in is absolutely encompassing and is both a question and answer. It is memory that provides the heart with impetus, fuels the brain, and propels the corn plant from seed to fruit.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • conference ()
  • ... I walk in and out of several worlds every day.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • in Laura Coltelli, ed., Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak ()
  • ... I believe that poets have to be inside their poems somewhere, or the poem won't work.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • in Laura Coltelli, ed., Winged Words: American Indian Writers Speak ()
  • The world begins at the kitchen table / ... Come to the table. / What do you bring to the table? / Let's put everything on the table. / ... / Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table / while we are laughing and crying and eating / the last sweet bite.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • title poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here ()
  • If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you. Or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.

Joy Harjo, Creek-U.S. poet, writer, musician

(1951)