Joy Harjo

(1115 words)
  • Annette Van Dyke (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Joy Harjo is best known for her innovative poetry reflecting the complexity of contemporary Native American life. Based upon a belief that it is love that holds the universe together, Harjo’s poetry points to a possible restoration of the ancestral communal relationship between humans and the universe.

The complexity of Harjo’s poetry reflects her tribe’s history (Muskogee Creek) and her personal history. Born as Joy Foster in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951 to Allen W. Forester (Muskogee Creek) and Wynema Baker Foster (French, Irish and Cherokee), she took the name of her paternal grandmother, Naomi Harjo in 1970. Thrown out of the house at sixteen in a conflict over her parents’ divorce, Harjo attended high school at the …

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Van Dyke, Annette. "Joy Harjo". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 March 2009
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. Native American and Canadian Writing