Poet displays multiple talents in writer’s series

Poet Joy Harjo prepares to sign another book at the 34th annual Writer’s Series March 15. Harjo read excerpts from her works and played music at the Guillot University Center as part of the event.

by Staff Writer Taylor Simpson

Throughout her career, Joy Harjo has gained notoriety for her poetry, music and public speaking.

With help from UNA, she brought these skills to Florence as part of the university’s 34th annual Writer’s Series March 15.

Harjo read and performed her works at the Guillot University Performance Center.

The event began with an introduction by Pam Kingsbury, writer’s series coordinator and Harjo’s longtime friend.

“Having a conversation with Joy Harjo or reading Joy Harjo’s work is like taking a graduate course in what it means to be a human, to be a compassionate and loving human,” Kingsbury said.

When Harjo took the stage, she began not with a lecture, but by playing a song on her Native American flute.

She then read selected sections and poems from her books “How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2002,” “She Had Some Horses” and “Crazy Brave: A Memoir.” The readings touched on themes of spirituality, Native American folklore, history and memory.

“Her spiritual connection to her work was really powerful,” said junior Taylor Thornton. “It made me look at things (in) a different way.”

In honor of Florence’s bicentennial, Harjo touched on Florence’s indigenous history.

“There’s history everywhere,” she said. “You can walk through it right now in the place we’re in.”

Harjo also used her time on stage to address students in the audience.

“Young people have the power and ability to change the world,” she said. “You need to remember that everything you do matters.”

A reception and book signing followed the event.