I resigned from my University of New Mexico position a few months ago. Around the same time as my resignation I released a new album of music WINDING THROUGH THE MILKY WAY. Funny how much attention I've received over the resignation. Many have emailed or called, in solidarity, and wanting to know the story. As for the music, the CD is making it's way, huffing and puffing over the boulders of the native music police who kicked the CD out of the Grammy native category. Apparently I don't have enough native flute or powwow for it to qualify. Hey, the Creeks were there when jazz was invented!! And, by the way, the album has more then the required percentage to qualify as a native album, including flutes, Mvskoke language, etc. I guess there's sort of a blood quantum thing going on here for music,too..

(You can buy it NOW for Christmas on Paypal. I'll even send it Priority Mail and sign!)

Goes to show you however, how much we humans are drawn to controversy, to flashy story. Must have sex, betrayal, and people we know, or think we know and a peaks of highs and lows. Alexie knows this. It's an element of his success.

And almost to the day of my resignation I got word that I had been chosen for a Rasmuson USA Artists Fellowship. What a gift! It will help me live for a year, without university pay. And will help fund a writing/music workshop for Mvskoke students next spring or summer. At the same time, I was turned down for three proposals, including one I sent in to a national native organization. One of the reasons I was rejected was because my creative work, the panel decided, "was not the highest artistic quality" (This particular note is for the friend who was surprised I got rejected for anything. Yes, I have and do. As I've said, after I've been introduced by a long list of accolades, that my list of failures is much much longer.)

Because I keep getting inquiries, here's my version of what happened: a UNM female creative writing poetry professor colleague (not Diane Thiel) was discovered selling phone sex on a website with female students, all in s and m undress, complete with accoutrements and accompanying demeaning dominatrix language. She denied there was a site and proceeded to attack the creative writing program director for slander. The site in question was uncovered in internet archives after it had been quickly taken down. The university legal counsel came to the conclusion that all involved were consenting adults, even though the students were taking classes from the professor at the time of the interactions. The investigation became a castigation of the creative writing director whose credentials and contributions to the university were stellar. Most of the creative writing faculty and many of the English Department were surprised and stunned at the turn of events. Our concerns for the students were not addressed. The sex site was actually only a small part of the problem. We took the case, level by level, up the ladder of the university hierarchy to get the situation evaluated by the faculty ethics committee. We were refused, despite the many policies in place to address the behavior. We were then called "troublemakers" and those of us most outspoken suffered direct retaliation. The creative writing program director was forced from her position. Against a majority vote the then then department chair appointed someone, against our collective will to direct the program. At the beginning of fall 2008 the President of the university basically cleared the faculty member for teaching. There was no reprimand. We were told we had to continue to work with her. I hear that the poetry professor is quite proud of her "win".

I travel all over the country and I am contacted by many students who want to come and study with me and others of the mostly fine faculty in the writing program at UNM. I could no longer recommend the creative writing program. It was painful to come to this conclusion. I loved the program and my students. I had to walk away.

So there it is. All parties weren't served. Nothing was put to rest. And because there are complex reasons and forces behind everything, I chose to think that I needed to leave, so that I could turn my full attention to my creative work.

And I'm working to get the CD out there. I need a radio station in every state who will interview me and play the album. The last interview was with KAOS Radio at Evergreen College in Washington State. Please email me with any suggestions. Many of the songs will be in my one woman show, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, that opens in March at the Well Fargo Theater in L.A..

Come and see me there! And don't be shy. Come up and say hello. It matters.


mj said...

That's really too bad. I am sorry that happened. I am am encouraged by your perseverance.

marci said...

dear Joy. . .sorry for the circumstance but so glad you are free of the hierarchical web. . .

I am amazed how the Spirit of Domination continues to use the old sexual blame and shame strategy to initiate and insure power grab. . .In every ancient and modern sexuality issue one finds the underlying predators of power, prestige, privilege, and profit. . .

Having said that and knowing you have seen it and breathed it's stench for too long. . .i am so glad you are free. . and you where made for this freedom. . .

when i walked away i spent a few years peeling through the old fear programming that tries to give the message that one cannot survive outside of the system. . .Joy trust me on this one. . .not only will you survive. . .you will thrive. . .Like J.R.R Tolken" Not all who wander are lost". . . Joy, you where made for this freedom. . .

Joy remember when you cycled through Reinventing the Enemy's Language?. . . you set out to live that in your being, writing and music. . .well once again you have invitation to take that spiral to deeper levels. . . How and why to walk away. . .dear Joy you where made for this freedom. .

This is a short Adyashanti poem that makes me laugh these days for i really get this poem. . .and think you might too. .

"I am all hollowed out now. . like a reed. . .I gave everything for this and still laughingly wonder. . .how could it be so cheap?". . .

Joy here is a link for KKFI. . once a week they have a program called Native Spirit i believe Rhonda would be thrilled to have you as a guest. . .I am going to send a request to her today. .Also KKFI has a number of Jazz programs and you music would fit those shows as well. . . KKFI is a independent but really strong station here in KC

Native Spirit kkfi90.1



Be wrapped in blessings and light to guided this freedom. . .

marci said...

Joy. . . came back and re-read. . . it took me another read to hear more clearly the circumstances. . and how the lines flowed. . so please disregard how i miss read and commented. . .just know my prayers and good thoughts will always be. . .and disregard that which does not flow for your known truth and heart. .

Anonymous said...

www.kpfa.org 94.1

Erin Lynn said...

Hi Joy -

I've been reading for a while and very much enjoy your blog! Here is a link to KFAI Radio in Minneapolis. Write On Radio is on Thursday afternoons at 11:00. You will find contact information on the site.

Good luck!


Larry McNeil said...

First of all, congratulations with your new CD and Rasmuson award. You have certainly earned the award for all of your stellar work over the decades. Nice going!

I was sorry to hear about what sounds like a surreal debacle over at the UNM Creative Writing department. It's almost like a Coen brothers script; a comedy of errors that would be laughable if it didn't have so many sorry repercussions.

It seems that you have some very good things happening to step in and fill the void from teaching. Having experienced an unexpected departure from academia myself at one time, I can relate to the difficulties you face and know that it is not easy, on many different levels.

Man, I'm loaded down with projects that were rejected too. I'm never sure what to think of some of them, and just press on I guess.

Congratulations again though! That's making lemonade out of lemons.Some sweet stuff too.

deborah said...

Joy, I just listened to the CD for the first time this morning. On the fourth time around, I had a revelation: this is TOO Indian for the dumb Grammys! It's hopeful, happy, celebratory, fighting and determined and proud. Waaaaay too happy to be classified as "Indian" the way others are constructing that term. This is the music of surviving and thriving! That can't be the (vanishing) Indian, can it?!

susan said...

Hi Joy,
You made me think alot about integrity these last couple of days, but I won't bore you with that. The night I read your blog I was also on this site www.indabamusic.com/yo-yomacontest. Possibly a very wild idea, i am not a musician and don't know what it is possible to do with a saxaphone, but if it is possible you are the woman to do it. Maybe have a look if you have time. A way of getting your name to a new audience. You know a bird can not fly if it does not spread it's wings. take care, all the best susan

Patricia said...

Joy, good account. Janice just accepted Colo job, yeay! I hope it is as good as it looks to be. This at UNM has made me so sad about a department and a program I too loved--Pat Smith

Joy said...

Thanks for all the comments. I wrote this just for clarification....my point of view. I wonder if at some point we'll see the WHOLE story, all of it....we couldn't comprehend it with our earthly minds.

margo said...

KGNU in Boulder. they've played your music before...
I am an oooooold student, back in the day you taught at C.U.

You are inspiration.

robert leverant said...


your horn playing is right there... time for you to riff with charles lloyd... the two of you... would be a deep journey to the edge of the other world ... lloyd is no ordinary great jazz musician... he's conversant in these realms... a man of spirit

u of n.mexico... great spirit life has a way of getting us to move on, doesn't it? just when we're settled in, too

i love your book: a map to the next world

i opened to your site, hoping that you'd be coming out this way, the bay area ca, so i could hear you speak your poetry & thoughts and hear your music

album: music of the world, KPFA also there : forms and feelings on sunday also KPFA ... go to the site:
http://www.kpfa.org/schedule/ and choose which program... you can listen to each and for several weeks back...

i also love reading, however painful and exhilerating and inspiriting and inspiring and full of terrible beauty reinventing the enemy's l

robert in sonoma county california

Tara said...

Whole Wheat Radio (www.wholewheatradio.org) - it's an internet radio station in Talkeetna, Ak.

Have you considered offering some kind of writing workshop online? I'm sure there are other people, like me, who would jump at the chance to learn from you without having to immerse themselves in aunversity to do it.

Tripp said...

KNON in Dallas, TX has a show called beyond Bows and Arrows the hosts are;Albert Old Crow, John Reynolds,Harold Rogers and Tracy L. Palmer-M.ed
Contact Information
You can write to:
Beyond Bows and Arrows
KNON 89.3 FM
5353 Maple Ave
Dallas Texas 75235
Office: (214) 828-9500
Request Line: (972) 647-1893
Email beyondbowsarrows@aol.com

Love your art, poetry and music since I heard and saw you at Florida Junior College in Jacksonville.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joy, That's crazy that you were kicked out of the Native category. How weird! The insanity of people never ceases to amaze me!
Anyway, I'll get some radio informaiton together for you. I tried to help a friend promote a folk cd a couple of years ago and I have a list of radio stations at home. I'll send the info to you in the next couple of days.
Happy year of the Ox,
Stephanie E. from Wesleyan

Kim said...

Hi Joy!

I'm just catching up with you today. Your blog. Your cd. Everything. My heart goes out to you and your brother. Prayers, peace, healing ... for you and all your loved ones and all life.

I emailed my local NPR station, which is WAMU in Washington,DC and suggested that Terry Gross feature you and your work on her show, "Fresh Air." I believe it is happening.

Take good care.


river said...

Joy i have written a letter to Maya Angelou and requested for her to interview more Native American women and suggested you as spoken word poet, musician, and playwright. . .I do not know if it will actually get to her or will go to her program handlers. . .but thought it would be worth a try. . .We need more Native voices in our world. . .especially yours!