An American sunrise : poems

by Joy Harjo

Hardcover, 2019





New York : W. W. Norton & Company, 2019.


A stunning new volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States, informed by her tribal history and connection to the land. In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family's lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother's death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo's personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and "one of our finest--and most complicated--poets" (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member bell7
This was a mixed bag for me. The structure is part poems, part story - some sections were basically stories or histories, not just poems - and tells of Harjo's ancestors Trail of Tears being forced by the federal government to move from their homeland in Alabama to Oklahoma. This made the collection especially hard to read. Several poems were opaque to me, in part because I'm a reluctant poetry reader but also because I'm unfamiliar with some of the history and tradition that she as a Mvskoke woman conveys in poetical format, making it that much harder for me to follow. This is not just history, but also everyday and present life, with history spiraling in and out as it does for all of us. There are some really beautiful lines and descriptions to be found here. "Washing My Mother's Body" and "My Man's Feet" were two poems that really resonated with me. So I'm glad I read it and I would try something by Harjo again, but for this one I almost wished for a whole college class to focus on the collection and a good teacher to guide me through to better understanding.… (more)
LibraryThing member Kristelh
Received this book of poems by Joy Harjo, poet laureate of the United States from BarbL. I enjoyed reading most of it.

from page 6, "Do you know how to make a peaceful road through a human memory?"

"If I turn to salt, it will be of petrified tears

Liked The Fight, page 21.

And much more. I liked the descriptions of nature. I did like the saxophone.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
An absolutely lovely collection of poetry by the current Poet Laureate of the United States in which she interweaves her personal experience with an exploration of the history and relationship of the Mvskoke with the land from which they were forcibly removed some 200 years ago.



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