43 Facts About Joy Harjo


Joy Harjo is an American poet, musician, playwright, and author.


Joy Harjo served as the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold that honor.


Joy Harjo was only the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to have served three terms.


Joy Harjo is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century.


Joy Harjo studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts, completed her undergraduate degree at University of New Mexico in 1976, and earned an MFA degree at the University of Iowa in its creative writing program.


Joy Harjo is the author of ten books of poetry, and three children's books, The Good Luck Cat, For a Girl Becoming, and most recently, Remember.


Joy Harjo has been designated as the 14th Oklahoma Cultural Treasure at the 44th Oklahoma Governor's Arts Awards.

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At the age of 16, Joy Harjo attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, which at the time was a BIA boarding school, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for high school.


Joy Harjo loved painting and found that it gave her a way to express herself.


Joy Harjo was inspired by her great-aunt, Lois Joy Harjo Ball, who was a painter.


Joy Harjo enrolled as a pre-med student the University of New Mexico.


Joy Harjo changed her major to art after her first year.


Joy Harjo earned her master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Iowa in 1978.


Joy Harjo took filmmaking classes at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Joy Harjo taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts from 1978 to 1979 and 1983 to 1984.


Joy Harjo has played alto saxophone with the band Poetic Justice, edited literary journals and anthologies, and written screenplays, plays, and children's books.


In 1995, Joy Harjo received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.


Joy Harjo joined the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in January 2013.


In 2016, Joy Harjo was appointed to the Chair of Excellence in the Department of English at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


In 2019, Joy Harjo was named the United States Poet Laureate.


Joy Harjo was the first Native American to be so appointed.


Joy Harjo was the second United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to serve three terms.


In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets.


In 2022, Joy Harjo was appointed as the first artist-in-residence for the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


In 2023, Joy Harjo was awarded Yale's Bollingen Prize for American Poetry.

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Joy Harjo has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, National Native American Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Joy Harjo has written numerous works in the genres of poetry, books, and plays.


Joy Harjo uses Native American oral history as a mechanism for portraying these issues, and believes that "written text is, for [her], fixed orality".


Joy Harjo published her first volume in 1975, titled The Last Song, which consisted of nine of her poems.


Joy Harjo's poetry is included on a plaque on LUCY, a NASA spacecraft launched in Fall 2021 and the first reconnaissance of the Jupiter Trojans.


Joy Harjo's family was challenged by her father's struggle with alcohol as well as an abusive stepfather.


Joy Harjo started painting as a way to express herself.


Joy Harjo began writing poetry at twenty-two, and released her first book of poems called The Last Song, which started her career in writing.


Joy Harjo has performed in Europe, South America, India, and Africa, as well as for a range of North American stages, including the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the Cultural Olympiad at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, DEF Poetry Jam, and the US Library of Congress in Washington DC.


Joy Harjo began to play the saxophone at the age of 40.


Joy Harjo believes that when reading her poems, she can add music by playing the sax and reach the heart of the listener in a different way.


Joy Harjo is an active member of the Muscogee Nation and writes poetry as "a voice of the Indigenous people".


Joy Harjo's poetry explores imperialism and colonization, and their effects on violence against women.


Much of Joy Harjo's work reflects Creek values, myths, and beliefs.


Joy Harjo reaches readers and audiences to bring realization of the wrongs of the past, not only for Native American communities but for oppressed communities in general.


Joy Harjo believes that we become most human when we understand the connection among all living things.


Joy Harjo raised both her children as a single mother.


Joy Harjo is married to Owen Chopoksa Sapulpa, and is stepmother to his children.