I flew in over the Rio Grande for the ____th time. This time from a meeting in New York City, and a "Praise Day" for Diane Burns at the Bowery Poetry Club. Actually, it was a "Praise Dusk", sparsely but warmly attended. A major memorial had been held previously at St. Marks. Diane's beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter Britta was present, and read one of her mother's poems, and something she had written. I winced when it was mentioned a couple of times in the tributes that Diane died from drinking, because her daughter was present. But then again, Britta was a witness. In a brief video, Diane talked about how growing up on the reservation she loved the energy of the circus or carnival. When she went to New York City, all she had to do was step outside, and there it was, the supreme circus carnival in the Lower East Side. She stayed. Bob Holman was a gracious host, and Steve Cannon the griot of grief and love. Liz Woody and others read and told stories of Diane. We ended with a improvised 49 song medley. A publication of Diane Burns collected poetry is being planned. Steve Cannon of The Gathering of Tribes might know the details. I don't. I left that evening with a sense of Burns burning but thwarted genius.
And please, when confronted with despair, sadness, shame, compulsion or the need for vision and excitement, go hug somebody, write, sing, dance, clean house, plant or make prayers. Leave the damn drugs and alcohol alone. What the labels don't tell you is that not only are these portals addicting, they come with tricky spirits.
Posted by Joy Harjo at 3:08 PM