Muscogee Nation News November 2011

Here's last month's Muscogee Nation News column. Will try to tend to this blog more--Facebook seems to get too much of my attention.

    The last two months I have lived in Tulsa, helping out my mother. I left Tulsa when I was a teenager. I fled a difficult home to go to high school at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was then a Bureau of Indian Affairs high school with an emphasis in arts. There was also a two-year postgraduate program. I remember three other Creek students there: Sandy and Phyllis Fife, and Richard Ray Whitman. That school literally saved my life, as it did for many of the students who attended. It affirmed my identity as a native person, as an artist, and it gave me a refuge from an abusive situation at home. I left Oklahoma in a trail of pain.
    I have returned frequently to Oklahoma over the years, to keep a connection with my family and my tribe. I kept a close relationship with my father, a Creek man, who lived his last years in Texas near the Gulf waters.  We both loved the water. When the abusive stepparent died in the early nineties, only then could I return to my mother’s house.  Before then, I saw my mother at work, or elsewhere.
       We human beings are faced with all kinds of tests in this world. We don’t always understand them. There are some things that take an eternity to understand. There has never been any doubt as to my mother’s love, and I have to believe that the love of the Creator (who is not invested in any religious affiliation) remains steadfast and center to any path, to any endeavor begun with the intent to bring kindness to the world, though sometimes it may seem otherwise.
       I considered the path of our people and the test of our path as I gathered with many others in the tribe for the 26th Annual Council Oak Ceremony on a warm, fall day in Tulsa. We stood together at the place the Locvpokv people from our nation arrived after our forced removal from our Alabama homelands. The Locvpokv people placed ashes from their original fires at the base of an oak tree on the hill where we now stood, many years and generations later, near the Arkansas River. I felt the connection between us like the beautiful and mysterious light from the fire, threading us together. I drank in every word spoken, felt every little breeze, and particle of sun. I listened to the poetry in the speech by our Chief of Staff, Edwin Marshall, the wise threading of history in the words of Ted Isham, our Cultural Preservation Manager, and took to heart the words of the many other speakers. 
      We may not understand the why of the injustice of the bloodshed, the forced move far away from our beloved lands, but we are in a story that winds through eternity. And we are still standing together.
       I needed the people that afternoon. I was fresh with grief from my mother’s passing from this world.
       I felt the memory of the people as it lives in our bones. I renewed my promise to carry my part of the story home the best way possible.
       This is home. This is what home means.


Literary Salon Spotlights Famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Las Vegas
Literary Salon Spotlights Famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Acclaimed authors to read at The Lady Silvia Saturday, November 19th
6-7:30 pm

LAS VEGAS - Five acclaimed writers, all classmates at the famed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will gather for conversation and readings on Saturday, November 19, 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm at The Lady Silvia located in Soho Lofts, 900 S. Las Vegas Boulevard #140. 

Poet Joy Harjo, writer Michelle Huneven, literary activist Glenn Schaeffer, writer Doug Unger and journalist Eric Olsen will reflect on their shared experiences as young writers in Iowa City nearly thirty years ago. 

The salon will feature the just-released, We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop published by Skyhorse Publishing. The book will be for sale and the authors will be available for book signings. 

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is one of the most highly regarded creative writing programs in the U.S. The program began in 1936 and its alumni have won seventeen Pulitzer Prizes, as well as numerous National Book Awards and other major literary honors. Four recent Poets Laureate have been either graduates or faculty of the Workshop. We Wanted to Be Writers is a rollicking and insightful blend of interviews, commentary, advice, gossip, anecdotes, analyses, history, and asides with nearly 30 graduates and teachers at the now legendary Iowa Writers’ Workshop between 1974 and 1978. Among the talents that emerged in those years—writing, passionately jousting, criticizing, drinking, and debating in the classrooms and barrooms of Iowa City—were the young versions of writers who became John Irving, Jane Smiley, T.C. Boyle, Michelle Huneven, Allan Gurganus, Sandra Cisneros, Jayne Ann Phillips, Joy Harjo, and many others. 

The event is FREE and open to the public. A cash bar with refreshments will be provided. The Lady Silvia is located in the Soho Lofts building at the corner of Fourth and Hoover Avenue, with free parking available across the street. 

The Saturday salon is sponsored by the Vegas Valley Book Festival and Nevada Humanities with support from Lady Silvia, Art Futures Las Vegas, and Vegas Seven Magazine.

More information: 702.229.5431


MNN Column October 2011

We are beginning the season of transformation. It is the time to bring in the harvest. The squirrels in my mother’s neighborhood in Tulsa are putting away for winter. We are all reaping what we have sown. This is happening at many levels of our existence.
I remember our beloved Mvskoke person Phillip Deere ’s words as many of us stood together at America’s Capitol at the end point of The Longest Walk the summer of 1978.  This time marked the end of a long walk of a protest of indigenous peoples to the Capitol, to make our presence known, to once again come to the face of colonized power to address them, one human being to another.
Following is an excerpted version of Deere’s words to remind and inspire us. They are prophetic and remain pertinent and living for us. Mvto. Mvto.
We are part of nature. Our pipes are red. Our faces, many times, we paint red. But we represent the Creation. We hear about Red Power. There are many definitions to Red Power.
Sometimes we refer to Red as the blood. But all colors of Man have the same color of blood. The fish life, they have blood also. The animals, too, have red blood. Everyone has red blood. But everyone was not made out of the red clay of America.
Only the Indian people are the original people of America. Our roots are buried deep in the soils of America. We are the only people who have continued with the oldest religion in this country. We are the people who still yet speak the languages given to us by the Creator. Our religion has survived; our languages have survived.
Long before this building (the Capital) was built, my ancestors talked the language that I talk today…I see, in the future, perhaps this civilization is coming near to the end. For that reason, we have continued with the instructions of our ancestors. We are the only people who know how to survive in this country. We have existed here for thousands and thousands of years. The smartest man in America does not know and cannot date the time that we originated.
This is our homeland. We came from no other country. Regardless of how many millions and millions of dollars are spent on an Indian, to make him someone else, all these millions have failed to make a White Man out of the Indian. We are the evidence of the Western Hemisphere!
…I feel sorry for the non-Indian. I can see the confusion among them. This society is confused. I can see that as a bystander…If I were with the society, I too would be confused. In the beginning of time, when everything was created, our ancestors also came about in this part of the world. There is no Indian here, on these grounds that will say that we came across the Bering Straits. There is no Indian standing among us who will say that we descended from apes and monkeys.
We have always looked at ourselves as human beings…
We are the original people here…We have forgotten in a short time what when the first people landed on our shores, they could not survive. Even the pilgrims could not survive. The Indians showed them the way of survival. We taught them how to live.
We taught them how to plant corn. That corn was a Tree of Life for us. We showed them that this is life here in America. And they survived.
Not too many years afterwards, foreign agents came to our house and tried to tell us how to farm. Not too many years afterwards, they began to tell us how to live. They began to tell us that our religion was wrong; our way of life was no good. This is not the agreement that we made. This is not the treaty that we made with the U.S. government, or any other country….We had an unchanging government. The law of love, peace, and respect, no man-made laws will ever take the place of it! And this is the law that we have always lived by.
Because we understood this law, every Indian door was open. Through these doors walked Christopher Columbus. Through these doors walked the Pilgrims, because of that law of love and respect that we had for all human beings.
But time changed. After entering our door, they took advantage of the Native people here. Their greed -- we have seen it. Many of our people have died. Many of our people were massacred because they wanted more land. We gave them land through treaties. We gave and we gave, and we have no more to give today!
Not only land was taken, even the culture, even the religion, under man-made laws, were taken away from the Native people. But we managed to survive. We continued with our way of life.
The jailhouses, the prisons in this country, are no more than four hundred years old. Prior to the coming of Columbus, more than four hundred tribes, speaking different languages, having different ways, having different religions, lived here. None of these tribes had jailhouses. They had no prison walls. They had no insane asylums. No country today can exist without them! Why did we not have any prisons? Why did we not have jailhouses or insane asylums? Because we lived by an understood law.
We understood what life is all about. To this day, we are not confused. My elders, spiritual leaders, medicine men, clan mothers, have no disagreements. We are not that confused. We come to you with one mind. We do not disagree on our religion. I have never tried to convert the Lakota people into Muskogee ways.
On every corner there is a church, each of them trying to convert the other one. We did not come here with that kind of confusion. We respect one another's religion. We respect one another's visions. That is our only way of existing in this country here -- that is our survival. This is our strength. Even though we are greatly outnumbered, our ideas will overcome those numbers!
People in this society have been driven away, and have been taken away so far from reality that they will not sit down under a tree and talk to us. They won't even sit down in their office to listen to the Indian. We have experienced this all this time, even in the local offices at home. Those who are holding positions through the government refuse to listen to the grassroots Indians because they have been so far away from that natural way of thinking. They have to look at a piece of paper and get directions from the higher-ups. Even their minds are controlled. They can't make decisions for themselves.
…Every tribe has a trail of tears. We wonder when it is going to end. I would like to see the time come when we can act like human beings and be able to sit around and iron our problems out.
…Your life is at stake. Your survival depends on this…
Phillip Deere 1929 to 1985


Native American Music Awards: Please Vote



Vote for Joy Harjo in the 2011 Native American Music Awards!

The 2011 Native American Music Awards National Voting Campaign is entering its final week! 
Joy has been nominated for ARTIST OF THE YEAR AND BEST WORLD ALBUM.

You can cast your votes for the winners of the 13th Annual Awards program by clicking here: 

Joy's New CD Nominated for Best Flute CD in the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards. Please Register and Vote!

Rainbow Gratitude Wins Best Contemporary/Modern Instrumental at the Indian Summer Festival.



 for an Anthology of Native American poetry, fiction and nonfiction to be published by Lost Horse Press, THEME: Humor

Tiffany Midge and Natanya Ann Pulley are collecting original creative works for an anthology of Indigenous poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with humor as its theme.  Humor has always been a hallmark of Native cultures and testifies to Native peoples’ wit, resiliency and fondness for the sharing of good stories and laughter; after all, every day is a good day to laugh!  For this collection the editors are interested in writing that channels inner tricksters, clowns and heyokas as the quintessential comedians and ultimate healers.  The editors will be considering creative work that showcases satire, irony, irreverence, hyperbole, mirth, celebration, humor both riotous and dry and first-rate storytelling.    

Vine Deloria's essay "Indian Humor,” published in his book Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto  conveys:  "One of the best ways to understand a people is to know what makes them laugh. Laughter encompasses the limits of the soul. In humor life is redefined and accepted. Irony and satire provide much keener insights into a group's collective psyche and values than do years of research." 

In The Sacred Hoop, Paula Gunn Allen writes:  “Certainly the time frame we presently inhabit has much that is shabby and tricky to offer; and much that needs to be treated with laughter and ironic humor; it is this spirit of the trickster creator that keeps Indians alive and vital in the face of horror.”

Kenneth Lincoln, author of  Indi'n Humor: Bicultural Play in Native America emphasizes    that “humor is a way of resisting genocide and is used as a means of survival.”
According to Ojibway author Drew Hayden Taylor, Comedy is a very serious business. “I was once told by an Elder from Alberta's Blood Reserve that "humour is the WD40 of healing.”
Send your best work medicine (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) that enlivens, uplifts, amuses, startles, heals and surprises as a Word or RTF attachment to lol.ndn@gmail.com
 or snail mail to Tiffany Midge, 204 East ‘A’ Street, Apt. 2,  83843.  Deadline January 31, 2012.

Please be sure to include a bio, your tribal affiliation, and your contact information.  Please include acknowledgements if your submission has been previously published.


Natanya Ann Pulley's maternal family home is near Tuba City, Arizona. She is half-Dine of the Kiiyaa'aanii (Towering House Clan). Bicheii is Tachiinii (Red Running Into Water Clan). Natanya is currently working on her PhD at the University of Utah in Fiction Writing. She is an editor of Quarterly West and her work can be found in Western Humanities ReviewThe Florida ReviewMoon Milk ReviewThe Collagist, Drunken Boat and on her site: gappsbasement.com. In addition to reading and studying experimental forms, disability and horror theory, Natanya enjoys being part of an unruly pack composed of her husband JP, their three psychic dogs, and a tank of dreamsunk fish. 

Tiffany Midge is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux, and a poetry MFA graduate from the University of Idaho.  Her poetry collection Outlaws, Renegades and Saints: Diary of Mixed-up Halfbreed won the Native Writers of the Americas First Book Award.  The chapbook, Guiding the Stars to their Campfire, Driving the Salmon to their Beds was published by Gazoobi Tales .  A three-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Tiffany has published poetry and nonfiction in Shenandoah, North American Review, Poetry Northwest and most recently in The Raven Chronicles, Florida Review , No Tell Motel, Drunken Boat and South Dakota Review.  Tiffany resides in Moscow, Idaho (In Nez Perce country) and teaches part time with Northwest Indian College.  She keeps the blog UGH; Uncivilized Grunting Heathen at http://breakfastattiphanys.blogspot.com/

Lost Horse Press Mission Statement

Established in 1998, Lost Horse Press—a nonprofit independent press—publishes poetry titles of high literary merit, and makes available other fine contemporary literature through cultural, educational and publishing programs and activities. The Lost Horse New Poets, Short Books Series, edited by Marvin Bell, is dedicated to works—often ignored by conglomerate publishers—which are so much in danger of vanishing into obscurity in what has become the age of chain stores and mass appeal food, movies, art and books.  http://www.losthorsepress.org/


Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears Has Been Nominated

Click here to see my recent Newsletter and Vote: http://eepurl.com/fA-tQ


Muscogee Nation News Column for August 2011

“The beat goes on.” In my teens that was the title and repeating refrain of a Sonny and Cher song. “Beat” also refers to the rhythm. It’s what literally holds us together, everyone, even beloved Earth. When someone gets sick, the rhythm is off somewhere in the body and spirit. “Beat” also refers to journalistic territory.

I’m back, on beat for our tribal paper. My beat is Indian country at large, and Indian country is vast. And my path in life seems to involve traveling around and getting to know people especially in Indian country. And everywhere I go I meet up with Creeks, or Mvskoke Nation expatriates.

The month of May I was in residence at Koahnic Broadcasting in Anchorage, Alaska. This is the home of one of my favorite radio stations, KNBA, a native station. David Sam, Athabascan spins great tunes on his show Indigenous Expressions, and used to hang out with Mvskoke citizen, the saxophone player Jim Pepper when Jim ran there years ago.

Danny Preston is another favorite DJ, or on-air host. And there’s the inimitable Shyanne Beatty, Athabascan producer and host of Earthsongs, a national native music program. While I was there I worked on a show idea, performed with a band at the Alaska Native Heritage Center on Mother’s Day, and traveled about giving performances in native communities.

One of my favorite places is Nome, a community at the edge of the Bering Sea. The first thing I saw when I got off the plane, after flying over ocean and ice break, was a man driving a pickup with a pet reindeer in the back. My friend, the writer, artist and healer MaryJane Litchfield and I watched walrus hunters go out into the sea to hunt, then she took me to the summer camps where drying racks were hanging with seal meat. The next day I traveled out onto the tundra with her son. We got close to musk oxen herds. The tundra smelled sweet. The spirit there was very strong.

Next I flew to Barrow, the northernmost point of the U.S., Inupiat territory. By mid May the sun was out twenty-four hours. I arrived at the end of whaling season. The morning I was there I walked around the town, saw a lemming, a kind of rodent, run under a stored boat. My favorite moment was hanging the Tuzzy Library with some young Inupiat boys, Steven Ivanoff and Eben Hopson.

One of our tribal members, Jim Pepper Henry, Jim Pepper’s nephew, is head of the Anchorage Museum in Anchorage. He took me on a tour of the museum, from the basement with its impressive heating system to the top floor with the mastodon exhibit. The museum is quite impressive. Not only are the roots of the indigenous cultures of Alaska beautifully acknowledged and displayed there, the museum also maintains a gallery of contemporary native artists. The operation is first class, and Pepper Henry does us proud. He is also in charge of his uncle’s affairs.

This reminds me, that on November 16th Jim Pepper, jazz player and world music innovator of the Mvskoke Nation will be inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, right there in Tulsa. Jim Pepper Henry will be there. I plan to also be there to celebrate this honoring. When one of us is honored, everyone is honored. I hope to see you there.

I’ll be back in the Nation toward the end of August and look forward to visiting. Porky, you behave yourself.


Correction: Not voting time yet for Native American Music Awards

I'm sorry for the confusion. I was given wrong information.
It's not voting time yet for the Native American Music Awards.
I'll make double sure when I get the news, and let you know.
Sorry for the hassle for those who have been frustrated trying to get through--

Aboriginal Music Choice Awards--Please Vote


The first round of voting for the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards ends August 18th at 11:56PM, Winnipeg, Manitoba time.
Please vote.
It's easy. Get to the site. Register with a password, then go.
My album Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears us up for best Flute Album.
And it's also up for Best Album Cover. (But that's not up for vote in the first round.)

Mvto! Thanks!


Native American Music Awards: Please Vote!!

The Native American Music Award nominations have been announced--I'm up for Artists of the Year, Best Flute Album, Album of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best World Album! Please cast your vote atwww.nativeamericanmusicawards.​com--Mvto!

You can hear the songs on my website at www.joyharjo.com--

(Now, back to work...)


Plumeria or Frangipani--Incredible being

Photo c Joy Harjo August 2011


Heat Wave Sky c Joy Harjo July 2011


I have received a few notes since my last post by people who thought I was signing off the blog.
Not so, just won't be posting new and in process creative works, especially poetry.
BUT, I will be posting as I am able--

Thanks for writing--

I rarely get response on the blog. Always do on Facebook--so don't always post here. Facebook is more like an ongoing conversation--

Also thinking about resuming my Muscogee Nation News column.



Final draft...Spirit Walking in the Tundra

(This may be the last of the new poems I post...I've been advised by my editor that if I post my work here, no one will buy my books. I can post notes. JH)

for Anuqsraaq and Qituvituaq

I fly over the Bering Sea toward Nome.

In the breaking up ice are turquoise lakes

In which I can see the sky.

The cargo load so heavy with human need, it

Vibrates to my bones.

In pockets of marrow are nests of sea birds,

Mothers so protective they will dive humans.

I walk from the plane and am met by an old friend.

We drive to the launching place

And see walrus hunters set out toward the sea.

We swing to the summer camps where seal hangs on drying frames.

She takes me home.

This is what it feels like, says her son, as we walk up tundra,

Toward a herd of musk ox.

There is a shaking, and then you are in mystery.

Little purple flowers come up from the permafrost.

A newborn musk ox staggers around its mother’s legs.

I smell the approach of someone with clean thoughts.

She is wearing designs like flowers, and a fur of ice.

She carries a basket and digging implements.

Her smell is sweet like blossoms coming up through the snow.

The spirit of the tundra stands with us, and we collect sunlight together,

We are refreshed by small winds.

We do not need books of history to know who we are

Or where we come from, I tell him.

Up here, we are near the opening in the Earth’s head, the place where the spirit leaves and returns.

Up here, the edge between life and death is thinner than dried animal bladder.

c Joy Harjo Nome, Alaska 2011


Mural by Leslie Silko, outside Lucca, Italy 2011

Leslie created this mural as a gift to her/our translator Laura Coltelli. She is still doing a little touch up.
Notice the sunlight coming in on the Sun Person's head.


Solstice Paddle

We were there at the mouth of the windblown channel

Near the end of a paddle

The sky was opening up just as it was closing down

Kokohead stood in a warrior cape of mist above us

And below the boat rolled the blue kingdom of knowledge.

We paused there at the culmination of ten thousand paths:

Six travelers pulling together in that sacred outrigger.

As the day lay down behind the crater,

One year floated up behind another

And all the births, partings and deaths we carried with us

Grew wise, then lighter.

c Joy Harjo


Spirit Walking in Nome Tundra/Revision

for Qituvituaq

I fly over the Bering Sea toward Nome.

In the breaking ice are turquoise lakes in which

I can see the sky.

The cargo load, so heavy with human need,

vibrates to my bones.

I walk from the plane and am met by an old friend.

We drive to the launching place.

Walrus hunters set out toward the sea.

We swing to the summer camps where seal hangs on drying frames.

This is what it feels like, says her son, as we walk up tundra

toward a herd of musk oxen.

There is a shaking, and then you are in mystery.

Little purple flowers come up from the permafrost.

A newborn musk oxen staggers around its mother’s legs.

I smell the approach of someone with clean thoughts.

She is wearing designs like flowers and a fur of ice.

She carries a basket and digging implements.

Her smell is sweet like blossoms coming up through the snow.

She is the spirit of the tundra, she tells me without speaking.

We do not need words or the books of history to know who we are

or where we come from, I tell him.

Up here, we are near the opening in the Earth’s head, the place where the spirit leaves and returns.

Up here the edge between life and death is thinner than dried animal bladder.

Walk with the sky between your teeth.

c Joy Harjo Nome, Alaska 2011


Astral Projection or Spirit Walking (poem draft)

for Qituvituaq

I fly over the Bering Sea toward Nome.

The ice is breaking up. There are lakes in the ice in which

I can see my face. I am in my body, and then I am in a plane.

We are so heavy with human need.

The cargo load vibrates to my bones.

In pockets of marrow are nests of sea birds.

They are so protective they will dive us.

I walk from the plane and am met by an old friend.

She reminds me of where we have been—

we drive to the launching place

And see the walrus hunters set out toward the sea.

We swing to the summer camps where seal hangs on drying frames.

This is what it feels like, says her son, as we walk up tundra

toward a herd of musk oxen.

There is a shaking, and then you are in mystery.

I want to know it.

Little purple flowers come up from the permafrost.

There are yellow and magenta.

A newborn musk oxen staggers around its mother’s legs.

Our seeing flies out toward the iced sea.

Over gold miners, the homeless and the town of Nome.

The seeing leaves us for a while as it plays in the low rays of the sun.

I smell the approach of someone with clean thoughts.

She is wearing designs like flowers and a fur of ice.

She carries a basket and digging implements.

Her smell is sweet like blossoms coming up through the snow.

She is the spirit of the tundra, she tells me without speaking.

We do not need words or the books of history to know who we are

and where we come from, I tell him.

Up here, we are near the opening in the Earth’s head, the place where the spirit leaves and returns.

Up here the edge between life and death is thinner than dried animal bladder.

This is how it begins. You already know how.

c Joy Harjo Nome, Alaska 2011


Blood Lust

Like many others I too am disturbed by the blood lust celebrations over the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Yes, Bin Laden is responsible for the deaths of thousands--but killing is no cause for celebration. Instead, this should be a time of introspection, of searching within our collective soul to properly bury the dead within us--to forgive and be forgiven.


Joy on the Radio tomorrow at 9 am PST

March 11, 2011
8:30 am PST for 15 minutes

The Co-Creating Show with Cassie Steal

Listen Live or Listen to a Replay Later: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cassiesteele/2011/03/11/cassie-premo-steeles-co-creating-show
Call in 347-205-9143


Star House


This is the moment the baby, or, this site, takes its first breath. The New Moon is in Pisces. Because it's a new Moon the Sun is also in Pisces at thirteen degrees. In my energetic map, made when I took my first breath, this is on my North Node--in the Tenth House--a direction of becoming. My instincts, or what is familiar to run back toward the Fourth--which is home, ancestral burrowing. The Tenth is putting it out there. So, here it is. I have been pretty underground with my astrological study. Then Leslie Silko brought out her memoir, The Turquoise Ledge, last fall (available on Amazon.com) and in the Prologue announces me as a poet, AND an astrologer. Because of that--and other markers of momentum, I decided: it's time.

So here it is, a "coming out" of sorts--of this love I have for looking at energetic patterns and discerning from them. I have learned that the planets are beings. In my western education I learned that they were mere places. Planets, stars and other "heavenly" bodies have definite, distinct presences, attitude and react with each other, and us, in discernible manners. The Moon is case-in-point. Just ask anyone who works in a hospital or the police force about the Full Moon affect.

Please take a look around--and get ahold of me if you'd like some insight. You'll find quite a story.


Young Soldiers To Be

Last night as I walked with my driver through the Atlanta Airport, passed lines of young men who were waiting for flights for boot camp. They were beautiful young men, between boyhood and manhood. Some are joining because they are warriors, true warriors. Others because they need jobs, or there is nothing else. I pray they are not slaughtered for oil, for greed.


Joy Harjo with Larry Mitchell appearing in Tulsa Friday night!!

Gig details:

8pm, Friday February 18th
Nightingale Theater
1416 East Fourth Street (just East of Peoria on Fourth Street)
Tulsa, OK
Tickets $12.00 (Cash or check only, please. No credit cards.)
Available at the door half an hour before the show.
This is a great opportunity to experience Joy's show in an intimate venue!


Heart Day

Happy Valentine's Day--Acknowledge your heart. Tell it thank you. Consider its service to you, how it circulates the blood, carries oxygen and love through your body. It is a person. It responds to your thoughts. Try it; you'll see (or hear or feel...). And while you're at it, thank the hearts of those you love: lover, partner (or the one you are imagining!), family members, even the heart of the Earth, the heart of the Sky. JH


The Process of Writing a Memoir is Like Building a House

...."like building a house in a hurricane"--is how Faulker described the writing of a novel.
I just printed up the 300 double spaced pages, and have my scissors to see and rearrange, then go back in and write.
It's due. Now.
In the meantime, pulling up other sources, notes, and researching.
Yesterday I finally got proof that I am also African American through Osceola, his mother. His story and the story of those times are beginning to draw me in. I will write that story one day.
While the manuscript was printing I dug randomly through notes and dreams. I came upon a dream that presaged the title of Lurline's novel, which is based on the screenplay we wrote together of the same name: Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me. The title was in the dream!! As was the shark who was central to the story. It came to me in the dream, and through me to become a central character and presence in the story.
Now I want to dig through my other dreams....
No, back to the story in the whirlwind.



Egyptian Journals: Melodrama and the Revolution 2-2-2011

Melodrama and the Revolution

9:00 am Cairo 2/2/2011

As I sit and write this on the morning of February 2nd, 2011, the Egyptian television is spewing very painful coverage of the revolution.

A huge number of callers are calling all the morning talk shows, to declare their love for the president. The tone is nauseating melodramatic. I was teaching a course on melodrama last semester and I can detect the signs. Callers say how much Mubarak cared for us and how much he loved us as a people, and invariably all of them tend to use that air in their voice, for maximum effect, and almost choke with their passion and love for the president.

Now the caller is young woman from the fancy suburb of Maadi, she said it’s unfair what “they” are doing to him. “They” are the demonstrators we’d have to guess. She pleaded in an accent that shows subtle hints of foreign education that don’t we have corruption or famine, and added that we are going to be like Iraq and other countries.

I know that most of the calls that appear on air are scripted. And as I writer and a director I feel that the writers are very sloppy. One of the worst problems that Egypt is facing is Corruption, capital “C”. It’s a huge problem, in every level of administration one can think of. There so many examples, it deserves a list of articles. It is so widespread that is considered part of daily existence, those asking for bribe do it as an acquired right and most people know they simply have to accept it to get things done. The writer of this call was really off to bring the “C” word to the conversation. But at least the caller didn’t give the audience the standard choking voice from the overflow of emotions.

Right now this Egyptian guy, calling from Emirates, is talking about his enduring love for Mubarak, that if he has his phone number, he’d come back and bring his kids and wife and sit under the president’s feet. I don’t get the connection between getting the president’s phone number and sitting under his feet. But that guy does not tell the audience why is he in Emirates. I suspect that he, like many young Egyptians, can’t find a decent job in Egypt and managed to find work in one of the gulf countries escaping the grueling economic situation. His melodramatic performance is so effective that the TV announcer has tears in his eyes.

I taught my students that melodrama’s high days were in the 19th Century, and it continued in the Egyptian movies till mid 20th Century. But I am forgetting the hundreds of sloppy soap operas that plague all the Arabic TV channels, almost 24/7.

The next call was the funniest. The voice of a young child is calling to say that she wants it all to end, in order to go back to school. This I have really never heard of before. A child is wanting to go back to school.. during midterm vacation. I’d have understood if the sweet voice of this girl said, “I want to go out to play” or “I am tired of the curfew, and I want to leave the house”, but to “go back to school”!! This scriptwriter should enroll in a better writing class.

Egyptian Journals, Dalia Basiouny 2/2/2011

Day 9 of the Egyptian Uprising. 2 2 2011

I am well, but my country is not.

Dear Friends,

I just got internet access today, so I want to write you a quick note before we lose it again.

I am well, but my country is not.
As you must have seen in the media, a beautiful inspiring revolution is taking place in Egypt. More than two million people gathered yesterday in the main square in Cairo to ask the president to leave and let the people govern themselves. It was a beautiful celebration. Egyptians were drunk by the knowledge that as a people they have power to decide. It was amazing, with slogans and very funny chants. A real revolution of LIGHT!

Today is a very different picture. They are slaughtering the revolution, in the worst possible way. The amazing peaceful demonstrations were attacked by organized paid pro-government thugs. Thousands of them entered the square around 2 pm, and started attacking the peaceful anti-government demonstrators, with sticks, rocks, fire, metal weapons and more.

My friends insisted that I leave, and we left around 3 pm, just before camels and horses attacked the unarmed people. It's a horrific scene, that I am following currently on all TV channels. (The Egyptian channels are playing a very dirty game, brainwashing the people, and insisting the peaceful demonstrations are paralyzing the country and destroying it!).

The government is threatening to “Clean Out” the square tonight.. meaning to KILL EVERYONE. As I write this (10:35 pm) the peaceful demonstrators have one dead and 400 injured. They are surrounded in the square, are not able to leave and help or medical services can’t go in to rescue the injured. The official TV is preparing the grounds, not only are the peaceful demonstrators blamed for the paralyzed economy, and destruction and looting, today they are also accusing them of being “paid”, “foreign traitors” and “trained abroad” to topple the government. Most of the population is charged AGAINST the youth who are sacrificing their lives for the rights of their countrymen and women.

I trust that change will happen. The People who woke up will not be put back to sleep again. The Domino effect is starting in this region. I pray that the change will be peaceful, with no more bloodshed.

Pray for the New Egypt. Speak up for Peace.

In Peace,
Dalia Basiouny

SPECIAL FEATURE: Egyptian Journals from Dalia Basiouny

From: Dalia Basiouny

These are some of my notes on my experiences in Cairo, today Feb 3rd, the 10th day of the revolution.

After a very turbulent in Egypt, the morning finally came. The attack on the demonstrators in Tahrir Square seems to stop, leaving so many casualties. I got a couple of phone calls from friends saying they are heading to the square with supplies. I called the friends who live by the square to see what the injured needs are, and to find out if I can get into the square. The images of Tahrir on TV are showing the aftermath of the battle that took place there overnight. It looks like a war zone. No news if they are allowing people to enter. Rumors about thugs blocking the entrances.
After a couple of phone calls, I got a list of medical supplies needed. I called a medical student I know he gave me some suggestions on the kind of medicines, etc. I headed to the pharmacy and got all the anti-biotech they have (thankfully in Egypt it’s over the counter), and passed by a number of other pharmacies to get “neck support”. I drove to downtown.
I usually park a mile away, and walk across the bridge. Today, I was carrying medicine and water (even a few bottles are rather heavy) I parked as close as possible to the check point at the entrance of Kasr El Nil bridge.. Signs of destruction.. Piles of Garbage.. People were gathered. It’s not clear who is who. I saw a familiar face; a journalist who came from New York to cover the uprising. We walked to the entrance together, but we were separated as men and women enter from different places for inspection.
The inspection of bags and ID by the people committees was more vigilant. They were very polite. They apologized profusely before checking us to make sure we are not carrying sharp objects. I was carrying sharp objects. My medical student friend said take medical scissors. I bought two small ones that I fit into a side pocket in my bag. I know they will not find them. They didn’t. I passed the first check point operated by the people, guarded by the military tanks. There was another inspection. I saw Samah, one of the graduates of the theatre department. She was very happy to see one of her teachers there. She said she’s been coming everyday since Jan 25th. She was entering the square with other friends who were also bringing medical supplies. When we passed the check point area we were taken aback seeing the broken parts of the pavement and the garbage. Samah was especially disturbed by the sight. She was one of many who created daily patrols to clean the square. It’s really the cleanest demonstration I have ever been to. People are careful not to litter, and there are so many people who volunteer to clean and sweep the square, throughout the day. Some use the activity to express their political views. Walking with large garbage bags, instead of saying drop your garbage here, they call out “Donate to the National Party” (Mubarak’s party which abused Egyptians for decades.)
We make our way across the square to the make-shift hospital. I am surprised that there are many people there. A whole night of violent attacks did not stop so many of the demonstrators from continuing to demonstrate, peacefully. And many people were flocking to the square in support.
The “hospital” is a tiny corner street mosque, in a back alley. A few square meters. There are a few injured people, resting on blankets on the floor, under cardboard signs designating areas for the different departments. Bone injuries are the most obvious as they have casts. A number of other head injuries with bandages over their eyes, or foreheads, possibly from all the rocks thrown at them by government thugs.
The volunteers in the hospital are very grateful. They are sorting out the supplies. There are many plastic bags with supplies. I apologized for not finding any “surgical thread” at the pharmacy. The doctors said they don’t need any more. Good! That means they sewed up the big wounds. As I drop the few supplies I got, I look around the small busy space. The pigeon holes, where people leave their shoes as they enter the mosque, are filled with different medicines, and supplies. Piles more are gathering in front of the volunteers to sort. It’s so heartwarming to see that so many people came throughout the night and the morning to donate, and to help, and many more were flocking in. While I was there, one of the doctors climbed on a plastic stool and said. “What we currently need is two laptops and two people to enter data about the injured.” I call a friend to inform her about what’s needed. She finds people who can donate a laptop, but needs more information. I go back to the hospital and ask for details. One of the young doctors explain that they don’t want a donation of a laptop, just one they can use to enter data about the people they are treating, and other patients that were taken to other locations in case people are looking for them. They also wanted someone to start a facebook page for the hospital, so that they can share the info of the people they have been treating since the beginning of the uprising. I want to volunteer for the job. I can type fast, but I am not an expert with Excel program. A few minutes after I get back on the square I hear on the microphone that they found two volunteers to do the data entry, and they are still waiting for the laptops.
The guy on the microphone, I couldn’t see his face because of the thick crowds, repeated a few times that under no circumstance people should collect money. Whatever they need, they announce and people provide it. No money collection. The crowd cheered and clapped.
It’s close to noon, and the square is filling up with people. Definitely more than the number present at the same hour the day before.
I walk around the square many of the pavements on the far side, where the major attacks happened, are gone. The street tiles were pulled out and used by the demonstrator to defend themselves in their night fight.
While I stand near the Egyptian National Museum that the demonstrators protected from the petroleum bombs of the thugs last night, I hear a loud banging sound. A young man is using a stick to bang on the metal street fence. Another man picks up a metal bar and starts to bang. It takes me a moment to realize what’s going on. The watchmen on the rooftops of the surrounding buildings saw pro-government crowds trying to enter the square. They warn the watchmen on the ground, who bang the fence to alert the demonstrators. Flocks of men come to that area, to stop the thugs from infiltrating the square. Impressive! The young demonstrators are protecting the National Museum, the square and our future.
Seeing these enduring, well-organized demonstrators, still hanging in there with faith in change, even after a horrific night of defending themselves gives me so much hope for Egypt and the Egyptians.
This is dampened by the news about the thugs circling the square, intimidating people and preventing them from getting in, and confiscating the food and medical supplies. I was waiting to hear from a friend who was driving in with a car full of food and supplies, so I can gather people and go pick it up from him. He called to say the thugs took everything from them!
One of my students called to say that they weren’t letting her into the square and were telling her that there are gunshots and people are being arrested inside. Another had to walk three miles to find an easier place to enter. He was intimidated by a guy who is carrying a sword. Yes, as sword. Yesterday they attacked on horseback and camelback, today swords. Which century do they belong to?
Another friend who lives nearby comes to the square in the morning and in the evening. Today he couldn’t enter in the evening. The thugs stopped him and accused him of being Israeli. They took him to an Army officer, who “advised” him to go back home.
I made it home safely. Tired. More hopeful than in the morning, but worried about tomorrow. The eleventh day. The Friday of Departure. It’s going to be a turning point. Please direct your prayers to Egypt and to Peace on Friday. I know the people defending their rights in a decent life will be triumphant. I deeply hope their path to change will be peaceful.
(Sorry if my sentences are incoherent or unclear. It’s been a very long week, with little sleep.)
Dalia Basiouny
Cairo, 3 Feb 2011