Joy Harjo

by Melissa Lukenbaugh


The wandering poet, writer, and musician Joy Harjo returned home three years ago. She left Oklahoma for an Indian boarding school in New Mexico in the late ’60s, and since then has taught at several universities, recorded several albums of music, published many volumes of poetry, children’s books, and a memoir, and performed theater. She’s lived in Louisiana, Arizona, and Colorado, and even raced outrigger canoes in Hawaii for awhile. But she was always headed in this direction, she says, and now lives in Tulsa. Being back in the circle of the Mvskoke Nation, not far from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, the ceremonial grounds, and the airport, makes it all right. She says, “We always think we know our path, or believe it’s totally our own choice, then we discover that we are walking an ancient path, set by our ancestors.”

Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 20, October 15, 2014.