An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

Staff Pick

In her resounding An American Sunrise (W.W. Norton, $25.95), Joy Harjo, the indefatigable activist, musician, playwright, and fi rst Native American to serve as the U.S. Poet Laureate, tells stories, chants legends, speaks truth to power, and guides the spirit back to its origins. Most of all, she sings. Invoking a past when “there were songs for everything,” she retraces personal, tribal, and national memory to reclaim those songs and sing them anew. This is both in keeping with her Mvskoke legacy—passed on when an elder “blew his most powerful song into the hearts of the children”—and her determination to use her voice to “make a peaceful road/through human history” and not “upset the dead.” While Harjo’s outrage is evident as she recalls the Trail of Tears and the laws which, until 1978, “made it illegal for Native citizens to practice our cultures,” stronger is the impulse to heal divisions, and Harjo writes in the same spirit of inclusiveness with which her ancestors once “made a relative of Jesus, [and] gave him a Mvskoke name.” Squarely facing the losses without losing hope, Harjo practices a timeless “ceremony of grieving/which is also celebration.”

An American Sunrise: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781324003861
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 13th, 2019

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