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.