The Next Song

Sharon Carson |

We at NDQ are delighted to help spread the good news of Joy Harjo’s appointment as Poet Laureate of the United States.  From the official announcement made on 6/19/2019 by the Library of Congress:

“Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She succeeds Tracy K. Smith, who served two terms as laureate.

“Joy Harjo has championed the art of poetry – ‘soul talk’ as she calls it – for over four decades,” Hayden said. “To her, poems are ‘carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom,’ and through them she tells an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making. Her work powerfully connects us to the earth and the spiritual world with direct, inventive lyricism that helps us reimagine who we are.”

Here is the full Library of Congress announcement.

Joy Harjo 37908406695

Back in 1985, North Dakota Quarterly published an extensive interview with Joy Harjo, conducted in 1982 by Joseph Bruchac. We are especially happy to make the full interview available to you this week via the NDQ online archives.

“I rely mostly on contemporary stories. Even though the older ones are like shadows or there dancing right behind them, I know that the contemporary stories, what goes on now, will be those incorporated into those older stories or become part of that. It’s all still happening. A lot of contemporary American native writers consciously go back into the very old traditions, and think I do lot unconsciously. I don’t think I’m that good of storyteller in that sense, but it’s something that I’m learning. I love to hear them and use them in my own ways.”

You can also find more about Harjo’s work and a selection of three of her poems on her page at the Poetry Foundation.

Here is Harjo’s own website, with links to her multidimensional projects and numerous radio interviews.

And finally, Harjo is also a talented playwright and musician, with several cds and collaborative projects available online.

Here is a wonderful short video of her own commentary and performance segments from her play “Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light.”


Sharon Carson is Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, Department of English, University of North Dakota and the reviews editor (and former editor) of North Dakota Quarterly.

Joseph Bruchac, “Interview with Joy Harjo,” North
Dakota Quarterly 53 (1985).

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