Thank you for all who wrote in to tell me that the name of the Choctaw poet opening up the evening at the University of Oklahoma a week ago is none other than Steven Sexton. Keep an eye out for those up and coming poets.
Also a note to those who have emailed me and not written back, my computer died, and with it all of my email addressed and unanswered mail. My replacement computer died,too, a few days later. Now I'm gingerly writing on this one.
Some upcoming events:
I'll be making a special appearance at Native Winds, Hawai'is Native book, CD, jewelry and craft supply store in Kaimuki, 1152 Kokohead Ave. Suite 202 this Saturday, December 4th. I'll be there close to 1 (depends on when the Leighton Look Fundraiser Canoe Race ends...that is, when my Hui Nalu canoe crew makes it from Maunaloa Bay to Magic Island...about 12 miles...forecasts are for 12 to 15 foot facing waves...that would be exciting, and treacherous). I'm scheduled to be there for book and CD signing, general visiting and hanging out, from 1-4PM.
The next event is the Ruskin Poetry Series in Los Angeles, where I'll be reading, and improvising with Chris Abani, one of my favorite poets/writers:
RED HEN PRESS & THE RUSKIN ART CLUB PRESENT
Ruskin Art Club’s historic clubhouse 800 S. Plymouth Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90005
in the Wilshire district, one block south of Wilshire & three blocks west of Crenshaw.
*Joy Harjo & Chris Abani * Sunday Dec.12, 2pm
Plus: A Special RUSKIN POETRY PRIZE Winner
Food & Refreshments Reception
Authors' Books, The Los Angeles Literary Review & Broadsides for sale
For membership & Future Readings, Lectures, Workshops & Concerts
call: 310-669-2369 RuskinArt Club & USC Doheny Library Readings Info
Red Hen Press : 818-831-0649
This event is co-sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from the James Irvine Foundation
Also, coming up is the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January 2005. A Thousand Roads, a film co-written by Scott Garen and me, will premiere. It was directed by Chris Eyre. It's dramatic doesn't fit any prescribed form. It will be the Signature film for the National Museum of the American Indian. It's a poetic journey of several short narratives of the lives of fictionalized native characters. John Trudell provides the narrative voice.
And UCLA begins winter quarter in January 2005.
Otherwise, I am still puzzling over the riddle of how to communicate with an in-law who loves my relative and is wonderful to his children. I advised the marriage to my beloved relative because within him is someone who is capable of loving well. He has proven that promise. We circled each other in the kitchen during Thanksgiving cleanup. We gave us impetus to stay with it is that we basically care for each, despite my: Indian-poet-musician-thinker self, and his white-military-policeman-lover-of his family self. What I learned is that there is a race of people in town that he cannot tolerate. And in his position he has intimate power over them. And what do I do with this? I responded back with questions for information, about the drug of choice for lawbreakers, ice is making headway, dangers. In the questions, in my speech I attempted to imbue all with a humanity. I walked away uncomfortable with my failure, and the knowlege that I have, that is, this man who has been an exlempary family member would probably hate me if we didn't have a family connnection. And how would I feel if I saw him outside the circle of family? I realize that I too make my own judgements, my own assumptions. How do any of us see past the world we assume from parents, teachers, schools, television? Some wisdom may be inherent in these sources, in sane times, maybe even now. But in a system that values money and acquisition of the material over compassionate values most are flawed. Maybe what I've assumed as true all this time, isn't. There are basic laws, however, and the most basic is loving care to whatever we are doing, to whomever we come into contact with...even our enemies. I realized in that potent, hot moment of the circling that there was no word, no poem, no song I could say at that moment that would change him. I wanted him to see the foolishness of his assumptions, past the white, evangelical structure of meaning in that small town of Tulsa. And I would probably be the only one who just might open him a little to compassion, or to seeing us as humans. Maybe he's thinking the same thing, puzzling over my hard mind.
And then again, what is the purpose of poetry and song? To hammer with a message? To delight with verbal gymnastics? To punch and slam with rhetorical surprise? To convince?
That's not my experience with it. That doesn't mean to say poetry cannot perform all of these functions, for me it's about something deeper, a soul talk, a genuine response of the soul. It's hard to hear to soul with all this clatter.