In Mad Love and WarBook - 1990
Winner of the William Carlos Williams Award (1991)
Joy Harjo is a powerful voice for her Creek (Muscogee) tribe ("a stolen people in a stolen land"), for other oppressed people, and for herself. Her poems, both sacred ad secular, are written with the passions of anger, grief, and love, at once tender and furious. They are rooted in the land; they are one with the deer and the fox, the hawk and the eagle, the sun, moon, and wind, and the seasons - "spring/ was lean and hungry with he hope of children and corn." There are enemies here, also lovers; there are ghost dancers, ancestors old and new, who rise again "to walk in shoes of fire."
Indeed, fire and its aftermath is a constant image in the burning book. Skies are "incendiary"; the "smoke of dawn" turns enemies into ashes: "I am fire eaten by wind." "Your fire scorched/ my lips." "I am lighting the fire that crawls from my spine/ to the gods with a coal from my sister's flame."
But the spirit of this book is not consumed. It is not limited by mad love or war, and "there is something larger than the memory/ of a dispossessed people." That something larger is, for example, revolution, freedom, birth.
From Library Staff
multcolib_heathere Mar 13, 2016
Joy Harjo is an old favorite of mine and I find it difficult to articulate just why. Perhaps because when I read her poetry I am transported to the southwest and can almost feel the desert breeze blowing.
multcolib_nickk Jun 21, 2014
Though I have not read a large amount of Native American poetry, I was stunned and moved by this collection from Harjo. Politics, myth, and inner balance all flow within a wonderful weave. If you like this, try her children's book, 'The Good Luck Cat.'