Friday, June 21, 2019

Celebrating Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

Family Album
Photo by Amy LV

Students – I am so happy to share the name of our new Poet Laureate of the United States.  Joy Harjo is a wise, accomplished poet whose work I admire greatly. She is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and our first Native American Poet Laureate.  You can read more about her at The Poetry Foundation. As Poet Laureate, Joy follows the talented Tracy K. Smith whose daily radio program and podcast, The Slowdown, has been a gift.

Joy Harjo
Photo by Karen Kuehn
From The Poetry Foundation Website

I wrote today's poem by reading and reading one of my favorite Joy Harjo poems, Once the World Was Perfect. I simply read and read it again, aloud, listening for a connection, for something I could write in the silence of my listening. Joy's image of people from long ago stays with me. Below you can read the beginning lines of this poem:

Once the World Was Perfect
by Joy Harjo

Once the world was perfect, 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.

Read the rest of the poem HERE.

Writing in the silence after reading is a beautiful, inspiring way to listen to what is inside of you. Should you ever feel at a loss for words, read something you love. Read it more than once. Read it aloud. Then listen. Write.

Did you notice that my poem is written with a circular beginning and ending? Remember, this is a type of beginning and ending you can always try out.

For other Poetry Friday posts highlighting Joy Harjo, visit Mary Lee at A Year of Reading, Irene Latham at Live Your Poem, Michelle Kogan at Michelle Kogan, Catherine at Reading to the Core, and Carol at Carol's Corner. Thank you, Mary Lee, for the suggestion to share Joy's words today. I have been happy about this announcement all week.

Linda is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at A Word Edgewise with something fun - a clunker exchange! She's also got this week's poetry offerings from all around the Kidlitosphere. Please know that we gather each Friday, and all are always welcome.

Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. I like Joy Harjo's poem (I shared a poem by her today too), but I love your poem "There Was a Time." Such magical words - sparklewinter evenings and lines, "We caress old words like smooth stones."
    Thanks for sharing your process,"I simply read and read it again, aloud, listening for a connection, for something I could write in the silence of my listening."

  2. Your poem resonates with me today because I spent the week cleaning out my parents' house. They've moved to a retirement home. The past echoed in the walls of their home, in the books, the art, the furniture. It wasn't always a comfortable feeling, but your poem comforts me. Thanks.

  3. "And somehow our pockets are full
    of memories we did not make."

    This is what reading history, or from other cultures, does for us. Love it.

  4. Love your poem, Amy— the sparklewinter evenings, the scent of fresh baked bread, the pocketed memories, the old words like smooth stones, the open palms, the knowing. All of it. It fits in so beautifully with this week's Joy Harjo celebration. xo

  5. "A spark of kindness made a light." I love this line that seems to be a thread running through all of Harjo's work. Your response is stunning! I love the same lines Mary Lee chose. Those memories are precious. Thank you for this lovely post, Amy!

  6. Another gift of a post! Thank you!

  7. "And somehow our pockets are full
    of memories we did not make."
    Thanks for the beautiful imagery, and lovely pondering in your poem Amy, and in these lines.
    Thanks also for sharing Joy Harjo's "Once the World Was Perfect." I hope we can bring our old world around a little bit…