An American Sunrise

An American Sunrise


Book - 2019
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"A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the U.S., informed by her tribal history and connection to the land."--Publisher's description.
Publisher: New York : W. W. Norton & Company, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781324003861
Characteristics: xiii, 116 pages : map ; 22 cm


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ArapahoeJulieH May 03, 2021

Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate, opens a dialog with American history in the form of essays, commentaries and poetry.
Many of the poems in this collection are reflections from Harjo’s return, after 200 years, to her Mvskoke homeland east of the Mississippi. “I returned to see what I would find, in these lands we were forced to leave behind.” Culminating with: “No one had told us how beautiful it was: the waters of this river, these healing plants, these stones, these winds roaming through on sunlight and rains, all the suns of our lost days. They couldn't remember because to remember would have killed us when nothing else did.” (p.103)
The poems follow the Trail of Tears but not in linear time, for Harjo’s vision is not a historical event fixed in time (1830-1850) but rather a circular continuum where past, present and future coalesce around the whole. “The indigenous peoples who are making their way up from the southern hemisphere are a continuation of the Trail of Tears.” The poem, Exile of Memory, laments Native displacement over hundreds of years (p.9) mirroring the horrors put into place at the southern border by the former administration. Also rendered in the poem Advice for Countries, Advanced, Developing for Falling (p.79-80)
The poem, Honoring, (p.68) asks us to pay respect to those (mostly indigenous peoples of the world today) the growers and harvesters of our food, the makers and dyers of our clothing, etc.
Harjo concludes this collection with Bless This Land…a plea to us, as Americans, to take responsibility for what’s been done and continues to be done in our names. A superb collection from one of America's most important and resonant voices!

AnnabelleLee27 Jul 01, 2020

An outstanding collection of beautiful and painful poems reflecting the experience of forced removal of Native Americans and its reverberation through the subsequent generations.

LPL_ShirleyB Apr 03, 2020

I look forward to savoring this poetry! Joy Harjo is our current U.S. Poet Laureate. As a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma she is the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate. Harjo is also an acclaimed saxophone player.
In a statement, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said Harjo’s work “powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Nov 08, 2019

"What are we without winds becoming words?" That's from Joy Harjo's poem "Becoming Seventy" (page 87).

Other favorite lines include:
(1) "Each of us is a wave in the river of humanity." (From "Weapons, Or What I Have Taken in My Hand to Speak When I Have No Words", p. 27);
(2) "We are bright with the need for life." (From poem & page listed above);
(3) "None of us is above the other / In this story of forever." (From "The Story Wheel", p. 28);
(4) "The songs of the guardians of silence are the most powerful --- / They are the most rare." (From "Singing Everything", p. 53);
(5) "Someone sang for me and no one else could hear it" (From "A Refuge in the Smallest of Places", p. 59).

A rare jewel of a book . . . No wonder Joy Harjo was named the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2019. --- My favorite poem: Hard to say, very hard to say . . . possibly "The Fight" on page 21.


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