By Lynn Neary, Patrick Jarenwattananon
Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo — a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation — often draws on Native American stories, languages and myths. But she says that she’s not self-consciously trying to bring that material into her work. If anything, it’s the other way around.
“I think the culture is bringing me into it with poetry — that it’s part of me,” Harjo says in an interview with NPR’s Lynn Neary. “I don’t think about it … And so it doesn’t necessarily become a self-conscious thing — it’s just there … When you grow up as a person in your culture, you have your culture and you’re in it, but you’re also in this American culture, and that’s another layer.”
Harjo, 68, will represent both her Indigenous culture and those of the United States of America when she succeeds Tracy K. Smith as the country’s 23rd poet laureate consultant in poetry (that’s the official title) this fall. Her term, announced Wednesday by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, will make her the first Native American poet to serve in the position.