I know Joy Harjo is known mostly for her poetry and music, but I find her prose incredible. She teeters, to borrow her great image, on the brink of language.
This memoir is harrowing. (What good memoir isn’t?) I found myself grateful that Harjo had come out the other side of her experiences and found her voice. The book is really a hybrid – straight narrative, poetry, story (both true and not so), and commentary. And it’s all rendered in such gracious and rich prose. For example –
To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is a kind of resurrection light; it is the tall ancestor spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird. It is a hundred horses running the land in a soft mist, or it is a woman undressing for her beloved in firelight. It is none of these things. It is more than everything. . . I followed poetry.
I’m glad you did.