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Joy Harjo
(May 9, 1951 - living) U.S.A.

Joy Harjo

Scholar, author, poet and musician


In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the daughter of Allen W. and Wynema Baker Foster was born and enrolled as a member of the Creek tribe. The talented Native American, Joy Harjo, came from a family of Muscogee painters which she herself planned on becoming. Harjo is not a full-blood Native American and she did not live on the reservation. However, she is a full member of the Muscogee tribe.

At the age of sixteen, she moved to the Southwest to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts. Switching her major from art to poetry, Harjo graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in poetry in 1976. Harjo then received her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa in 1978.

Approaching poetry as a visual artist, she brought her writing to a professional level. Harjo taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Arizona State University, and the University of Colorado, before becoming part of the English department at University of New Mexico in 1990. In addition to her busy lifestyle, she has a son named Phil and a daughter named Rainy Dawn.

Joy has published five books of poetry including She Had Some Horses, In Mad Love and War, and Secrets from the Center of the World. Among her awards are the Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature from PEN Oakland, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Delmore Schwartz Award from New York University, the American Book Award, the Poetry Award from the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association, and the 1990 American Indian Distinguished Achievement Award.

Most recently she was awarded the Oklahoma Book Arts Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas, and the Bravo Award from the Albuquerque Arts Alliance. In 1998, Harjo received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award to work with the nonprofit group Atlatl to bring literacy resources to the American Indian community. Harjo's music is a blend of influences that speak of community, love for people, for all creatures, for history and the need to sing with and of the sacred.


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