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Poet Warrior: A Memoir

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Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Wa Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice. Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. She explores her grief at the loss of her mother and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member. Moving fluidly among prose, song, and poetry, Poet Warrior is a luminous journey of becoming that sings with all the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.


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Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Wa Poet Laureate Joy Harjo offers a vivid, lyrical, and inspiring call for love and justice in this contemplation of her trailblazing life. In the second memoir from the first Native American to serve as US poet laureate, Joy Harjo invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. A musical, kaleidoscopic meditation, Poet Warrior reveals how Harjo came to write poetry of compassion and healing, poetry with the power to unearth the truth and demand justice. Weaving together the voices that shaped her, Harjo listens to stories of ancestors and family, the poetry and music that she first encountered as a child, the teachings of a changing earth, and the poets who paved her way. She explores her grief at the loss of her mother and sheds light on the rituals that nourish her as an artist, mother, wife, and community member. Moving fluidly among prose, song, and poetry, Poet Warrior is a luminous journey of becoming that sings with all the jazz, blues, tenderness, and bravery that we know as distinctly Joy Harjo.

30 review for Poet Warrior: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Joy Harjo's Poet Warrior: A Memoir is a truly remarkable book—partly because Harjo has led a remarkable life, but also because of the beautiful, almost incantatory prose Harjo uses. Harjo doesn't just relate events in her life, she pulls us into a world view that makes us rethink our relationship to what we see around us—that makes us rethink the very world we see around us. Take your time with this title. Move slowly, pick it up, put it down. Nothing here should be rushed. I received a free elec Joy Harjo's Poet Warrior: A Memoir is a truly remarkable book—partly because Harjo has led a remarkable life, but also because of the beautiful, almost incantatory prose Harjo uses. Harjo doesn't just relate events in her life, she pulls us into a world view that makes us rethink our relationship to what we see around us—that makes us rethink the very world we see around us. Take your time with this title. Move slowly, pick it up, put it down. Nothing here should be rushed. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cook Memorial Public Library

    Recommended by Jo. Check our catalog: https://encore.cooklib.org/iii/encore... Recommended by Jo. Check our catalog: https://encore.cooklib.org/iii/encore...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Rich

    Harjo's newest memoir Poet Warrior is a triumph. She writes with such passion and raw emotion that you can't help but be captivated by her words. I actually went back partway through and started the book over because I wanted to re-read her thoughts and think about how they all fit together as the book went along. So much injustice has been done to Native Tribes, and Harjo exposes the heart-wrenching and convicting truth that simply being born Indian has been a crime. She speaks out of pain but Harjo's newest memoir Poet Warrior is a triumph. She writes with such passion and raw emotion that you can't help but be captivated by her words. I actually went back partway through and started the book over because I wanted to re-read her thoughts and think about how they all fit together as the book went along. So much injustice has been done to Native Tribes, and Harjo exposes the heart-wrenching and convicting truth that simply being born Indian has been a crime. She speaks out of pain but challenges the reader to seek beauty. Her writing is so beautiful in its simplicity, and yet her messages of hope and community are complexly woven together with a mix of poetry, songs, history, and prose. Her book made me ponder about identity and culture, and I highly recommend it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Pub date: September 7, 2021 Joy Harjo has such a beautiful way with words, and her newest memoir is no exception. This book tells the story of her life through prose and poetry and evokes such amazing imagery and emotion. Thank you NetGalley and W. W. Norton for the advance copy of this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Jarrett

    Poet Warrior is one of the most difficult and powerful books I have read in years. I have a hard time expressing the experience. Which Joy Harjo expresses very well: the difficulty in expressing her extraordinary capacity to perceive an event in greater heights and depths than most people. Since a child, she has been searching for "the words". I understand her search, yet find her very successful. For me, she evokes millennia old sadness from the driving out of Native American Indian Indigenous Poet Warrior is one of the most difficult and powerful books I have read in years. I have a hard time expressing the experience. Which Joy Harjo expresses very well: the difficulty in expressing her extraordinary capacity to perceive an event in greater heights and depths than most people. Since a child, she has been searching for "the words". I understand her search, yet find her very successful. For me, she evokes millennia old sadness from the driving out of Native American Indian Indigenous people, away from their stolen land and across the country. The sadness also arises from their natural respect for and partnering with Nature and her cycles, and being bull dozed into the current state. Yet, Harjo writes with positivity and optimism. I may be in the minority, feeling the sadness in her words. Its almost like a fork tine on a filling, the pain that explodes from her words. Her descriptions are lured from a celestial abyss. I suspect that even with the power of her words, she expresses only a part of what she experiences. I could not corral my response into only mental or emotional - these two aspects ignite the spiritual - which then ignite the physical. Responses, responses...to a rare writer of poems and memoirs.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    I'll admit it...I learned about Joy Harjo just this year at the National Book Festival of the Library of Congress. She talked about her most recent book - a memoir - and spoke so movingly about it, that I just had to read it. Harjo is American Indian, the first indigenous person to be named Poet Laureate of the United States. I use "American Indian" at her suggestion, because she says it is preferable to "Native American". For those of use who haven't read her poetry before, she does a beautiful I'll admit it...I learned about Joy Harjo just this year at the National Book Festival of the Library of Congress. She talked about her most recent book - a memoir - and spoke so movingly about it, that I just had to read it. Harjo is American Indian, the first indigenous person to be named Poet Laureate of the United States. I use "American Indian" at her suggestion, because she says it is preferable to "Native American". For those of use who haven't read her poetry before, she does a beautiful job of blending memoir with her poetry. And her poetry is beautiful: full of nature, magic, singing and insight. "In our tribal nation's original teachings mothers, ecke, are blessed. Women are honored as co-creators of the future with men. When we were colonized, female deities were deliberately disappeared from our indigenous stories. There is no female figure in Christianity's Trinity. Mothers lost their place next to the fathers. They were treated as property. Those roles in society filled by women and mothers, positions like teachers and childcare workers, became the least respected and valued even though they are the most crucial." If you get a chance, look her up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Miz Lizzie

    In a memoir filled with poetry, symbolism, and personal mythology placed within the context of historical, future, and contemporary events, Joy Harjo has crafted the story of her journey from girl warrior to poet warrior. Her text is by turns, inspirational, instructional, and a model for how to live a good life despite -- or because of -- missteps, inherited trauma, systemic racism, and environmental devastation. She is an Elder passing on hard-won wisdom. Her straight-forward acceptance and te In a memoir filled with poetry, symbolism, and personal mythology placed within the context of historical, future, and contemporary events, Joy Harjo has crafted the story of her journey from girl warrior to poet warrior. Her text is by turns, inspirational, instructional, and a model for how to live a good life despite -- or because of -- missteps, inherited trauma, systemic racism, and environmental devastation. She is an Elder passing on hard-won wisdom. Her straight-forward acceptance and telling of dreams and visions as part of her story is refreshing and affirming. This is a mentor text that can be dipped into and appreciated again and again.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Page

    Poet Warrior The oral tradition morphs into written language. Music and poetry become one. The genocided and bigotried lose then find opportunity. In "The Poet Warrior," Joy Harjo memoirs herself, voices a people, histories a nation, and spiritually connects everything in the universe. The stories in this memoir enthrall the reader, teach the unlearned, justify the transcendent, and inspire writers of all genres. Poet Warrior The oral tradition morphs into written language. Music and poetry become one. The genocided and bigotried lose then find opportunity. In "The Poet Warrior," Joy Harjo memoirs herself, voices a people, histories a nation, and spiritually connects everything in the universe. The stories in this memoir enthrall the reader, teach the unlearned, justify the transcendent, and inspire writers of all genres.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patti K

    A recent 2021 memoir by the Poet Laureate Joy Harjo is very enjoyable and inspiring. The prose is interweaved with poems that only add to the satisfaction. Her childhood was full of alcoholism, rage, infidelities, and dread, but she managed with the help of relatives to learn strength and taking courage from her ancestors. Her tale is powerful and full of love and persistence. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    Poet Warrior is excellent. Joy Harjo wields words as the true poet warrior that she is. The words she strings together form a priceless necklace of beauty. Despite the fact that I am a privileged white woman, her words of truth and spirit resonated directly to my heart and soul. I learned and relearned much from this book. What a Gift she has shared and I feel humbled and grateful to have read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debbi

    Poet Warrior is a remarkable book! Memoir held together by the finest poetry. Joy Harjo is the first Indigenous person to be Poet Laureate of the United States and she is serving her second term. Her life story as a Native is complex and difficult; her accomplishments, quite phenomenal. The meanderings and musings about her growing up, getting stuck, and freeing herself through art, music, and writing will stay with me for a long time.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    I am such a big fan of Joy Harjo. She is such an inspiration and I find myself re-reading her work over and over. This is a beautiful look into what has made her who she is. I cannot wait to purchase this one to add to my personal collection. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Blair Emsick

    I read this after finishing Mary Karr’s memoir Lit and it was an odd transition. Karr writes emotionally charged episodic reams while Harjo gives us brief glimpses into her life, her numerous otherworldly encounters, her poetic perceptions. Both are packed with a punch. Loved this book, will revisit often.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pj

    According to Norton’s synopsis and Kirkus’s review of this book, it retells the same story (“How I became a poet”) as Harjo’s last memoir, “Crazy Brave”. And, that book wasn’t interesting enough to reread. So, I’ll probably pass on Poet Warrior.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth Anne

    Like everything Harjo writes, this book is a sheer joy to read through the pain and laughter, stories and poetry, history lessons and personal anecdotes. I would recommend reading her first memoir “Crazy Brave” and then this book. Harjo brings such delight, wisdom, and beauty into our world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elise Loehnen

    Gorgeous.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aryssa

    3.9 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eaton Public Library

    Review to come

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Notable Books #58

  20. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    An imaginative way to write a memoir full of poetry, stories, and photos from an amazing poet. Great for readers that enjoy innovative story telling.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    More than a book "Poet Warrior" is so much more than a book: it is revelation, a testimony, a sacred song, a love poem . Joy Harjo is a true national treasure. More than a book "Poet Warrior" is so much more than a book: it is revelation, a testimony, a sacred song, a love poem . Joy Harjo is a true national treasure.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan Burt

    Outstanding!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenn Howell

    I'm giving this 4 stars because there was a good bit that was in the writer's tribal dialect, which is why it might be enjoyable to listen to the audio book. I'm giving this 4 stars because there was a good bit that was in the writer's tribal dialect, which is why it might be enjoyable to listen to the audio book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christy Browning

    Great book. Lots of wisdom and beautiful writing style. I highlighted lots of passages that I will re-read. I would have given 5 stars but the second half seemed a little slow.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gail Anderson

    This is a beautiful book full of wisdom and spiritual observations. I highly recommend it and would love to talk to anyone who has read it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Camellia

    An incredibly powerful memoir

  27. 5 out of 5

    RyReads

    Unlike anything else I’ve read this! Moving and original— sure to be a reread for most people who decide to pick this up. If you love beautiful prose this is for you!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jason Malone

    I am nobody to speak about the content in this book, but I am so very glad I read it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane Payne

    Joy Harjo's memoir takes readers on a spiritual journey that covers parts of her childhood with her abusive stepfather, her own children, and the last days spent with her mother. Throughout the memoir, there are poems and lyrical prose, and family photos that create a lasting and vivid image of Harjo's story. Joy Harjo's memoir takes readers on a spiritual journey that covers parts of her childhood with her abusive stepfather, her own children, and the last days spent with her mother. Throughout the memoir, there are poems and lyrical prose, and family photos that create a lasting and vivid image of Harjo's story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. Joy Harjo is perhaps our greatest living poet & this memoir did not disappoint. It was so fluid and poetic, actual poetry intermingled with poetic prose that didn't follow a linear trajectory. I learned a lot about Harjo and felt like I was sitting beside her while she told me tales from her life. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC of this title. Joy Harjo is perhaps our greatest living poet & this memoir did not disappoint. It was so fluid and poetic, actual poetry intermingled with poetic prose that didn't follow a linear trajectory. I learned a lot about Harjo and felt like I was sitting beside her while she told me tales from her life.

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