A musical, magical, resilient volume from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States.
In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues, and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lost ancestors are recalled. Resilient songs are born, even as they grieve the loss of their country. Called a "magician and a master" (San Francisco Chronicle), Joy Harjo is at the top of her form in Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.
Finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize
Big but fast-moving, and inviting as it expresses tenacity and outrage, Harjo's first collection of verse since her 2012 memoir, Crazy Brave, will please her fans. Harjo's long lines, short prose paragraphs, and song-like lyrics record her Muskogee heritage, her love of jazz ("there's something about a lone horn player blowing ballads at the corners of our lives"), and her high hopes for poetry itself, which creates a means of personal rescue ("we sang our grief to clean the air of turbulent spirits") and a new moral high ground ("songs that aren't paid for/ By the money and influence/ Of rich, fat, corporate gods"). Harjo records and performs music frequently, but some of the songs here do not translate well to the page ("One day I will be tough enough/ One day, I will have love enough/ To go home"). The book is not a new-and-selected, though some nonsong poems have previously appeared in earlier books and may find new life here. Less predictable are pages about living, landscape, and Native heritage in Hawaii her part-time home and pages about her visit to "the lands named Alaska' now": these verses and anecdotes give the volume its freshness, even as they take part in Harjo's larger project of Native, and human, solidarity.