How We Became Human (Harjo)

Harjo is one of those writers whose name has lingered on the edge of my consciousness for a while. I get many of those poem of the day emails and one Harjo poems (the name, regrettably, escapes me) and the possibility to see her in person (didn’t happen) prompted me to buy this collection.

Though there are some highlights from the earlier collections (“White Bear” and “She Had Some Horses”), I think she hit her stride with the 1990 collection, In Mad Love and War. These prose poems (not completely clear what makes a poem a prose poem, but that label seems right here) are tightly written and thought provoking – nowhere moreso than in “Emergence.”

“I remember when there was no urge / to cut the land or each other into pieces, / when we knew how to think / in beautiful.”

Don’t skip past the introduction; it’s electrifying. I think I’ll try her memoir next.


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