NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
MAJOR NATIVE AMERICAN POET AND MUSICIAN TO PRESENT HER NEW MEMOIR, CRAZY BRAVE
NYS Writers Institute, November 1, 2012
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
8:005 p.m. Reading | Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
Joy Harjo, award-winning Native American poet, will read from her new memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), about her journey from a troubled childhood and teen motherhood to her achievements in the arts, on Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. in Campus Center Room 375, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture.
Harjo’s appearance is cosponsored by SUNY Press in conjunction with the annual John G. Neihardt Lecture, named in honor of the American ethnographer who published the Native American classic, Black Elk Speaks, in 1932.
Joy Harjo is an American Book Award winning poet and musician of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. The author of seven collections of poetry, she was praised by the late Adrienne Rich for her “breathtaking complex witness and world-remaking language.”
Harjo’s new book is the memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), about her journey from a troubled childhood and teenage motherhood to her accomplishments in the arts. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Harjo’s tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.
Author Pam Houston said in advance praise, “Joy Harjo is a giant-hearted, gorgeous, and glorious gift to the world. Her belief in art, in spirit, is so powerful, it can’t help but spill over to us — lucky readers. Wildly passionate and honest as a hound, Crazy Brave invites us into a whole new way of seeing—deeper, less cluttered, and vastly more courageous than our own. It’s a book for people who want to re-fall in love with the world.”
Harjo’s poetry collections include How We Became Human (2002), A Map to The Next World (2000), winner of the PEN Open Book Award, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received the American Book Award and the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America. The Publishers Weekly reviewer said that How We Became Human, “shows the remarkable progression of a writer determined to reconnect with her past and make sense of her present, drawing together the brutalities of contemporary reservation life with the beauty and sensibility of Native American culture and mythology,” and said, “Alive with compassion, pain and love, this book is unquestionably an act of kindness.”
Harjo is also a prize-winning musician, songwriter, and alto saxophonist with five CDs to her credit. Writing for the Bloomsbury Review, Thomas Rain Crow said, “With a double shot of heart, beauty, freedom, peace and grace that blends traditional Native rhythms and singing with jazz, rock, blues and hip-hip, Harjo… is right at the top of the heap of the best contemporary American poetry-and-music artists.”
In January of 2013, Harjo will join the faculty of the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.