Myra here.

I am glad to be joining Poetry Friday this week, hosted by Library Matters. We have just recently launched our new reading theme on witches, goddesses, dryads and priestesses. I thought it would be fitting to have the Priestess of Poetry, Joy Harjo, be our first featured poet.

Crazy Brave (Amazon | Book Depository)

A Memoir Written By Joy Harjo
Published by W. W. Norton Company (2013, first published 2012)
ISBN: 0393345432 (ISBN13: 9780393345438) Literary Award: American Book Award (2013)(2016). Bought my own copy. Book photos taken by me and edited with an iPhone app.

I read this memoir during the beginning of the year. I recall being absolutely riveted by Joy Harjo’s voice: suffused with truth, courage, divinity. There is an utter simplicity to her writing that makes even the most painful experiences accessible, an invitation to enter her spirit embodied in lyrical language: silky phrases, strewn with stars, lilting with the illuminated secrets of the universe, revealed.

I find that as I grow older, I have little patience for the esoteric, the elite ivory-tower intellectualism devoid of warmth; the vulnerability masked by an attempt to sound smart, remote, and above it all. Joy Harjo strips away all that nonsense by speaking her unvarnished truth, her courage shimmering with psychedelic colours that can be smelled, felt, touched.

The post-its in my copy above indicate just how deeply I valued Joy Harjo’s wisdom. There is something otherworldly in the manner in which she perceived her ‘gift,’ her ‘knowing,’ that is transcendent. Our priestess/shaman theme is perfect for the struggles that she had to endure as she came into herself:

Her life experiences, however harrowing, opened up a well of artistry that is unparalleled, easily discernible, and draws people in, like a gravitational pull, attracted by the stars that she sprinkles into her poetry, her music, her prose.

My Poetry Friday offering, fellow bibliophiles, is this poem that she shared somewhere at the end of her memoir. It was a purging of sorts, yet it sounded like a benediction, an offering, a prayer. Here it is. I hope it finds you at the perfect moment. I took a photo of the pages in my book and edited it using an iPhone app.

#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Priestess Of Poetry: Native American Jo Harjo

  1. What an incredible individual, such powerful words, thank you for introducing her to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What powerful and beautiful samples of her poetry you shared. Thank you. I am glad to discover her poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie

    Embracing fear may be the only way we survive. Harjo’s words feel like truth shouting, Myra. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, after reading this I went straight to my library and put a copy on hold!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kay Mcgriff

    She packs such wisdom and beauty in her words. Thank you for sharing these.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] My 2019 in Books: Favourite Reads Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  7. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] Joy Harjo’s “Remember” – Gathering Books

  8. Pingback: [Book Quote Tuesday] Turning To Poetry – Gathering Books

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