The last thing Charlie Hill said to me was that he was going to have breakfast with his buddy Floyd Westerman. He'd missed him all the years it had been since Floyd passed over. What helps the grief of losing a best friend, a wise (ass) philosopher, gatherer of stories, a healer, is knowing that he will be there, with Floyd catching up. He'll get some rest, and will be there when the rest of us who love him, follow. Prayers here for you Charlie, and for your family, and all those whose hearts you have opened with laughter, with love.



We are each planted with a spark of light.
Each life is like a fire.
We must take care of that light.
Feed it.
Do not let passions for anything we find delight in
Rage and consume us
In any small or large manner
Or we will dim the fire.
It is made of the love of our parents
And ancestors.
It is lit by the Divine within everyone.
We must take care of it.
We each carry light into the world,
Every small and large being.
We share the light with every
Small and large act of compassion.
Laughter and joy make it dance
Beyond time.

What will we leave the day as a gift

Of remembrance and thankfulness?

c Joy Harjo November 6, 2013 Grand Rapids, MI dark and rainy


These last few days I have wrestled with difficult parts of my psyche.
It came to me that some of them aren't mine.
The ones in particular I wrestled with were my mother's.
I have to clean them out for myself, and for the generations that follow.

This is quite a profound teaching.


Return to Iowa City

This has been quite a homecoming here in Iowa City. Last night an incredible dinner cooked by and at the home of Professor Linda Bolton. The evening ended with several of Linda's students and Linda and I in a circle. Linda addressed the power of teaching. She was my student years ago when I taught at the University of Arizona, in one of the best classes I ever had in Native literature. It gets passed on. As I looked around the circle at the burning bright students I realized they were my "grand-students" and told them so. Yes they are--I must have many around the country! And I am the grand-student of many, including the teachers of N.Scott Momaday, Leslie Silko, Gene Frumkin, Nappy Napolean, John Coltrane, Karen Leialoha CarrollLeilani Sheldon....so many teachers in this life....they make a powerful matrix in each of our lives.


Health Care Standoff

Last night I wrote to my state senators, both Republican. They may not read the letters, but they need to know that not all of the constituency for whom they are responsible is in favor of their destructive stance. This standoff is dangerous. It is a stand of the rich against the poor. Revolutions are made of this. Ironically, most of the tea partiers need this healthcare, yet they've organized against Obama because of his race. We have to step carefully, and always with compassion.

People need the opportunity to buy affordable health care without being shut out because of pre conditions or because of inability to pay high premiums.

I believe race was and is a huge motivation for anti-Obama movements, but of course, not for all. We all need to be able to speak with each other. No, we shouldn't be forced to buy health care. All citizens should have access to health care. I don't have health care. The cost would take a third of my income, and I have no pre-existing conditions.


This week begins Tuesday Night Blues Jam Session /Workshops with Blues Musician and Singer Selby Minner, of the Blues Hall of Fame in Rentiesville, OK for Creek Nation Citizens

For eight weeks September 10 through October 29, every Tuesday for two hours per session. All Creek community citizens invited, any age, any level. For students of guitar and bass and other players/ singers - drums, keyboard etc..

Glenpool Creek Indian Center, the Community Building at 13839 S. Casper, Glenpool, OK 74033.

Please note: On the second Tuesday of the month the jam session will be held in the larger Activity Building at 191 West 140th Street, Glenpool, OK 74033.

(P.S. Will not be available by phone this week until Friday night.)


The Cutthroat Online Writing Mentorship Program

Dear Readers, Here is your chance to work on your writing for a month one-on-one with one of our noted writers! We are registering for fall writing mentorships now. CONGRATULATIONS to our mentor, Joy Harjo, for winning the 2013 PEN CENTER USA CREATIVE NONFICTION AWARD for her memoir, CRAZY BRAVE.

2013-2014 FACULTY









Work one-on-one with master writers. $1000 for a full month online mentorship in poetry, short story, memoir, essays, novel, or poetry-in-translation. $2000 for a six week detailed full-length manuscript evaluation in poetry, short story, memoir, screen play or poetry-in-translation. Our fee costs less than writing programs and writers conferences. Students pay one fee only: no academic papers, no academic credit, no travel, meals or housing. Go to www.cutthroatmag.com or call 970-903-7914 or write us at cutthroatmag@gmail.com Register early. Space is limited.


Child Theft

Native child theft isn't just the obvious, like the Cherokee case we are following where the child was trafficked by an attorney and "given" to a South Carolina couple, it has to do with education. In my elementary school in Tulsa, which was essentially on tribal lands, we learned that we were "other" and on the outside. We need our own Mvskoke schools with Mvskoke values. This will make for healthy cultural exchange. Respect is the keyword here, and there has been no respect. The State of South Carolina has never honored the place of indigenous peoples.


CONTEST in honor of the paperback release of CRAZY BRAVE

First, thank you/mvto to all those who have supported the story, my poetry and music.
I'm having a contest.
I will send a signed, hardback copy of CRAZY BRAVE and a CD of my original music to the best crazy brave stories I receive from you, from your life--one page or less, via FB. I'll pick the top three to ten, depending on the number of stories I receive. I'll post the best here and on my blog. You have until 5PM Friday August 2nd Oklahoma time.  The winners posted next week!


Fire Study

Study in Fire, Taos, 2013 c Joy Harjo and Mekko Productions Inc.


Glenpool Creek Indian Community Demonstration and Dance Party Tonight

*Indian Tacos by Autumn Star Catering, a Mvskoke/Creek business by Tricia FieldsAlex Alexander
*George Coser's Wednesday Night Stomp Dance Group
*Selby Minner and her Blues Band (I'll be sitting in)
D.j. Sapphire Satepauhoodle spinning tunes for a community dance. I've requested funk, soul, r and b, etc.
Starts at 6PM at the Glenpool Creek Indian Community Center off of 141st and Highway 75. 
Come out!!


Green Corn

Green Corn or busk, our Mvskoke new year is inherently about the acknowledgement and honoring of the plant world. We become in harmony with it. Our human worlds and plant worlds are utterly interdependent. Or rather, we are more dependent on them, than us, but our decisions matter, not just to seven generations and more of human descendants, but to the seven or more plant descendants, animal descendants and elements descendants. We make sacrifices to take care of each other. To understand each other is profound beyond human words.


Independence Day

I celebrate independence anywhere it happens. The question here is how. When a diversity of peoples is destroyed or diminished in a holocaust of outrageous proportions for independence, does this truly result in liberty, justice and freedom for all? In a few generations indigenous peoples of America have been reduced to one-half of one percent. Imagine Africa with one-half of one percent Africans. We have been essentially disappeared in the story of America. Our massive libraries of knowledge, rich cultural and intellectual gifts have been disparaged, destroyed and broken by interloper religions and a hierarchical system of thought in which indigenous people exist only as savages. What then does this say about liberty and justice in this country? 

For healing the wound needs to be opened, purged and cleansed. Our stories need to be allowed. Our traditional ways and languages need to be honored. This country needs to apologize and reparations must be made. We all need to come together, every one of us to make a true plan for liberty and justice for all. As long as indigenous peoples are disappeared and disparaged, or surface only in Hollywood movies like The Lone Ranger, this country will remain as a child without parents, who has no sense of earth, history or spirituality.


Note to self today:

Do not feed the monsters.
Monsters are those thought threads that denigrate and disrespect self and others. 
Some are wandering thought forms, looking for a place to land and live. 
Some are sent to you deliberately or inadvertently. They can come from arrows or gossip, jealousy or envy. Or from just...thoughtlessness. 
Instead, have a party.
Invite your helpers to the table. Give them something to do. They want to be helpful. And just celebrate.
Feed the birds.

Second note: A positive mind makes a light slippery surface and anything not of it, slides off.


Outrigger Dreams

This morning I feel myself climbing into the canoe in early morning Hawaiian waters, and those beginning strokes as the canoe and I adjust to ocean weather. It's a kind of back and forth, a call and response. Soon, we are only water and sky.



Speaking with a healer friend of mine in Alaska the other day. We got on one of our talking-discovery tracks. She gave me a good explanation of how the digestive system works. I could see each of our organs as beings with needs, loves and hates. I felt my organs leaning in to tell me what they needed. I could see that each has a personality, a need for attention because they want to function beautifully. Even the lowly colon has dignity.



Writing while listening to the guitar gods who inspire my character....
Talking with a friend who is my age. She reminded that "it's all downhill from here...." So, I thought I'd surf it. Just get in the right wave zone...and go.


Birthday Eve

...a time of evaluation and giving thanks. My experience in the world grows more complex. The simple truths deeper and more defined. Mvto out there for all those who have touched my life. In this Internet age this includes the blog circle.


Crazy Brave River Writing Journey in September

Sept. 10-13, 2013
Westwater Canyon, Colorado River 
Women-only river trip with special guest Mvskoke (Creek) Nation writer and musician Joy Harjo.  This trip celebrates Joy’s new memoir Crazy Brave. Her seven books of poetry include She Had Some Horses, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems.  Professional outfitter Sheri Griffith Expeditions provides all food/equipment.  No cooking, just write, float, and relax, and visit with like-hearted women.  Moderate fitness level. $1199.  
$300 deposit holds your space. 

PDF Flyer


Joy Harjo at 2013 Pen America in New York

Joy Harjo: A Preview (Interview)

April 29
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
NYC Open Night Reading: Bravery 7-8:30PM

May 1 
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
Speaking in Languages on the Edge 9:30-11 pm

May 3  
PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
Obsession: Joy Harjo on Time

Broken Song

Fragmented poetry and interrupted forms could be the natural creation of poetry shards, evidence of a world broken apart, or shredded meaning.


Disappointment and Determination

Yesterday the National Council of the Muscogee Nation turned down money to help start an arts council to benefit all tribal members. It was a bare bones budget.It would have resulted in an online almanac of Mvskoke artists, an assessment of the state of Mvskoke arts and artists, an examination of other indigenous models, a five year strategic plan, finding the best housing in the tribe, a look at funding sources, and several artist projects involving youth and master artists.

 I will meet with my working group and every member of the council, and we will try again. We will need the support and presence of everyone in the tribe who believes in the power of arts to express the spirit of the people, to renew.

"Things fall apart" and then they find a way to keep moving with beautiful integrity. I believe that vnvketka/love is the truth holding up the story matrix.


Fierce, flower star.            c Joy Harjo
Hollyhock power--
Has many healing properties.


Maverick Muscogee Nation News Column Feb 2013

(I decided to write a monthly Muscogee Nation News Column though I no longer do them. I used to write them as an unpaid service for the Nation. The paper discontinued them. Here goes--here's a maverick MNN column. Enjoy.)

It’s one of those late winter mornings in the Creek Nation. Light patches of snow dot the ground make me think about patterning. There is some order to how the snow catches and holds but I can’t quite see it from the perspective of the glass doors in the kitchen.

I was recently at the Ucross Foundation, at a ranch outside Sheridan, Wyoming, holed up writing.  One day it snowed all day. On the drive from the writing studio to the residence the wind had drifted the snow into elegant, undulating patterns. The snow was about three feet deep by early evening and we slowly plowed through it. We admired the patterns. They created beauty in our minds, a kind of snow music.
The patterns of snowfall this morning make no beautiful sense. What they tell me is that the flashing signs on highway 75 from Tulsa to Glenpool were wrong. There was no need to take cover for a blizzard.

Being a weather prophet is a tough business.  The meteorologist reads the signs from gadgets that report barometric pressure, temperature and other details. They now have sophisticated satellite images from which to read. Every one of us has this information on non-stop streaming weather channels. A storm may be approaching from the west in a discernible pattern, marching slowly across the land or making some kind of wind-driven haphazard trail. Often we’re right in our predictions, and just as often we can be wrong, though some of us learn to catch the rhythms more precisely.
One of my favorite classes in all of my experience as a student from kindergarten through college was a physics class in junior high. We leaned how to fly to the moon. We also learned how to tell the weather using various gauges. I learned that if you developed your gauge reading skills and watched the patterns you could get a pretty good sense of prevailing conditions and what shape they were likely to take. Since then I’ve learned that birds, animals and plants are probably a little sharper than civilized humans when it comes to such things, and seem to know what’s going on ahead of the arc.

However you do it, we read patterns and make predictions. The storm will either get here or not, and ultimately it has its own mind. Yes, even a storm has a kind of mind that guides it.

When I look back over my life from the perspective of now, I see both elegant waves and chaotic patches of trouble. They make a story. Some of the story is difficult to speak or to even fully understand. Other parts of the story fold sweetly from one detail to the next, like catching a wave in an outrigger canoe that takes you all the way in. I feel like I am on such a wave right now, even as I am still taking care to understand the patterns in chaos. Often, those patterns are the most creative, though they may be the most challenging, even painful. We humans are created of both—they make a weave and even constitute the energetic system of our minds, bodies and spirits. When we stand back far enough to get a perspective, we can see the music in the system, how every small thought of human or cloud matters, and shifts the direction of the weather.

c Joy Harjo February 26, 2013 Glenpool, OK


"Get Up Offa That Thing"

Back to the last day at my Ucross writing studio, after my last workout with Radha Blank. The closest gym is in Sheridan, thirty miles away, so we made our own workouts that have included many kinds of dance (mostly done to soul, funk, r and b and hip hop), workout, step, stretches, dips, and ending with those dreaded planks. In three weeks we've lost some weight, can do stretches that were impossible at the beginning, and can hold the planks longer without collapsing within a few seconds. Yeah us! Now--for my last writing run here, then horn practice--and back for dinner and packing. And then to the "Historic Occidental Hotel" in Buffalo, where we all plan to sit in during the jam, or stand up and sing or dance. What an incredible group at this writing retreat--


Read that bottle nose call their loved ones by names. I don't believe that's a unique phenomenon to dolphins or humans.


The Wilds of Discipline

More snow, more wind, but I am finding the story--Everything I've written in these last two weeks I abandoned yesterday. I start again. That's how it often works when creating any new story, song, dance, painting...Discipline and wildness meet in creativity.


Wake Up

When we enter this world with waking consciousness we put on our earthly suit of clothes. We move slower, but the principles are the same. Sometimes I like to move through this conscious realm as if I were dreaming. In dreaming we are more in touch with how our thoughts create immediately and dynamically. If I think myself into the heart of the song, there I am, or a plant, or a knot of pain that is asking for forgiveness, there I am. So much knowing opens up then. We are all part of each other.


Doubt Monsters

Dealing with the doubt monsters this morning.

"Once the world was perfect, Granddaughter, and we were happy in that world. Then we took it for granted. Discontent began a small rumble in the earthly mind.
Then Doubt pushed through with its spiked head and all manner of demon thoughts jumped through.
We destroyed the world we had been given. Each stone of jealousy, each stone of fear, greed, and envy put out the light.
No one was without a stone in his or her hand.
There we were, right back where we had started.
We were bumping into each other in the dark.
Then, one of the stumbling ones took pity on another and shared their blanket. A spark of kindness made a light...."

c Joy Harjo from Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light--



Nothing like sleep on a windy, snowy night then waking to a bright sun made even brighter after a dark and difficult journey. Therein is the story of life, this flicker back and forth between shadow and light.


Move It

I realize this morning as I write my play that I will have to ride a beat to get my protagonist's voice down in poetry...like driving a car with the top down on a path through the heart.


Crab Aesthetics

This morning thinking of the island of Aitutaki, after hearing of the tsunami in the Solomon Islands. I spent one of my best days in this world there. We were let off at one of those proverbial South Pacific islands: white sand, coconut palms--an emerald jewel in a turquoise sea. We gathered shells, the most beautiful we could find. We each made little piles. Soon, the shells sprouted crabs and began walking off! I learned that even hermit crabs have a sense of beauty. They picked the best shells.


Morning Prayer

Sun climbs into the sky with a baby
On his back. He wants to show his daughter
The creation story, how all the colors of dawn
Become humans, plants, animals and winds.
There is nothing quite like this light anywhere else
In the universe he tells her.
Earth is one of the most beautiful beings yet much suffering
Is brought to bare here.
As the sun lifts up on his elbows to peer over the edge, all the plants turn in
 their direction and lift up their heads and drink the light.
The birds sing and talk of plans and shake night from their feathers. They
bathe in the new sun.
Animals stretch and breathe in light. They begin moving about for food.
Most humans wake to alarms, music or talk shows.
They jump into their mind cars and start speeding away
Into a world in which the sun with his daughter on his back
Is only a battery, a phenomenon, or a myth.
One human sends a song in the shape and smell of gratitude.
It is a flower, a peacock or turquoise colored lake.
Sun’s daughter laughs and claps her hands.

Joy Harjo February 1, 2013 Mvskoke Nation


Song Origins

Last night went to my cousin's Wednesday night stomp dance practice at the local Creek Indian community center. I always learn something. Last night as we danced and I listened to the back and forth in the call and response, I understood how the animals and birds gave us the gift of songs.


The Circle of Life and Death

I walked out into Monday to balmy breezes and daffodils lifting up from the earth. It's too early but maybe our concept of early is shifting, will shift. One of the primary universal laws is that change is ever present. 

I am constantly reeducating myself to be a real human being. A real human being knows that everything in this universe, even time, is a being. We "civilized" human beings are considered foolish, even lost by most of the others who share this realm with us. Most have lost the ability to communicate with the winds, trees, stones, birds, creatures, insects, the sea or fire and stumble about in strange ambitions to own more or to be famous. These abilities live within us and want the opportunity to be useful.

When I have been in the intimate circle of death and birth all I cared about was love.


We're Still Following the Music

Reading Sidney Bechet's "Treat It Gentle: An Autobiography". I can hear an influence for Jean Toomer's 
"Cane"--A treasure in my research for We Were There When Jazz Was Invented. 
"The only thing they had that couldn't be taken from them was their music. Their song, it was coming right up from the fields, settling itself in their feet and working right up, right up into their stomachs, their spirit, into their fear, into their longing...it had no end...a memory that came from long way back..." Mvto Mr. Bechet.

Stepping into the Unknowing

This morning--a new poem I followed beyond fear, the same fear every artist encounters when stepping into the unknowing. Now, if I owe you an email, will try to catch those up---I work harder, it seems, with email than I ever did with phones, letters and faxes as message carriers. In fact, email culture is out of control. These messaging systems, while convenient and quick, eat time. And they are ravenous, and propagate like gerbils.


Shimmering Tree Being

Fresh from dreaming: 

I am taken to an incredible tree. The tree appeared to begin in the sky. It was so beautiful, ephemeral, a kind of lightness that appears rarely in this world. It seemed to start high up in the sky, and it filled anyone who saw it with awe. It appeared to be not of this world yet you could see the etheric body leading down to this world. I have never seen anything like it. Then in the dream, some boys/men were shooting at it, to bring it down. Several of us were trying to stop them. It hurt my heart to think that there were people in this world who would work to destroy such beauty, such a being.


Monday, Monday

I was up late again working until past ten on a Sunday--Working twelve to fourteen hour days through the weekend and starting again on Monday made me feel a little weary. I either have to change my attitude or let something go or get some help...probably some portion of each of these. My first look at the spirit of the day, it was turned away in a droop. I decided to use a technique that my spirit showed me that always works. I saw the spirit of the day infused with joy and discovery. Then I took that image into my heart and breathed into it. About that time the sun broke over the horizon. I am moving about lighter, despite the challenges. I've learned to hold those persons, ideas or images that mean me harm, either deliberately or without intent in the same kind of manner. The energy shifts. I am changed within. The dynamic alters and we all keep moving in an honorable way.


Constructing a Vision

Up writing--in those moments between everything and now I saw the shape and trajectory of my play, We Were There When Jazz Was Invented. It's like seeing the house you always wanted to live in, complete with a courtyard and openings to the stars and music blasting heart trails. And stories of making it despite the guns of history, dancing, feasting and the kind of quiet that comes from awe. In front of me are all the parts: boards, nails, screws, joints, lumber, windows, entrances, exits, the genealogies of southeastern Indians, Africans and Europeans and the genealogies of music, musical instruments and songs....thousands of pieces--and no instructions. Here we go.


Ten P.M. Report

Working through Charlie Parker "Anthropology" on horn (slower than Mr. Parker), and blues exercises on bass--studying the origins of blues and jazz, and working through over a hundred emails---and on, and on, and on---


For my Tapa Notebook which will be part of the Tapa Notebook Series in the University of Auckland Library

I am always taking notes. I am not faithful--to a particular notebook. I have a hand-sized notebook in turquoise leather, an 8x10 lined Moleskin notebook, my computer, and other pieces of paper I take notes on. I have tried to write everything in one place, to keep it organized. Like, dreams in this notebook, poems in this one, notes for poems, story notes, play notes. But everything runs wild. And for me, all of these forms overlap. Yet, I find the material from these sources eventually coalesce in ways that I cannot imagine as I am jotting things down. So in a sense, the tapa is a collage of notebooks! And photographs are part of an ongoing life collage. I am often photographing. I am also not reliable in my practice, that is, I do not write from 7 to 10AM every morning, or 9 to midnight everyday. Some days I write and some days not. Most days I write something, even if it is my dreams. It’s the same with music. I practice my saxophone, bass, ukulele or voice a little everyday...sometimes extensively. I like it when I can have a discernible routine and this happens when I am not traveling. Then the day is roughly: write in the morning; business, errands, calls and emails midday;  practice music in the afternoon, the gym, evening more of what is pending. 

Joy Harjo January 9, 2013 4:40PM Mvskoke Nation/Oklahoma 

P.S. Tapa (Kapa in Hawaiian)--fabric made by Maoris
Also, my tapa was a collage of pieces of writing and images from my various, current notebooks.


Killing or Compassion

Over 60,000 killed in Syria,killing in our schools, of our children, societal and environmental upheavals--We have so much to learn here and we will keep learning until we get it right. It begins within and believing that we are loved and acting like it. We were not given dominion over other persons (and by persons I mean of all animal, mineral and plant kingdoms), nor does anyone or any religion have the "right" path nor the right to disrespect others for their own ways. We make choices everyday, in our thoughts. Our thoughts are real and when they're fueled with emotion they have muscle to live and will either help or harm others. Last night I checked on the gatekeeper of my thoughts. Respect is her/his name. Compassion is another.