On April 16th, 2019, Fellows of McFarlin library Special Collections gathered together for their third and final fellow’s dinner of the year. Our special guest of the evening was poet, musician and playwright, Joy Harjo.
The evening began with a lovely dinner in the south reading room of the McFarlin library, bringing everyone together for a spirited conversation. Dinner was followed by an excellent talk by special guest Joy Harjo. In this wonderful talk, Harjo shared some of her favorite poems that shared detailed accounts of her life story, and shared several touching stories about her friends and family.
Harjo, a member of Creek nation, born in Tulsa, Oklahoma provided a narrative of her Native American background and her goals to inspire change through her writing. The poetry foundation describes Harjo as “drawing on First nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing.” Through her message to those in attendance, it is clear that Harjo uses poetry as a catalyst for change and uses the emotions that are associated with daily life to inspire her writing. Whether it be family life or political activity, she argued that poetry serves as an effective method of spreading her emotion and stories to those that read her work.
The night consisted of many readings of old and new pieces of poetry that Harjo had written throughout her poetic career, sharing stories that were both personal and inspiring. Through a poem, she talked about how she honored her mother after she had passed away and paid her final respects to her role model. In addition, she read a touching poem that was dedicated to her husband and his indigenous roots in North America. Harjo displayed an incredible amount of emotion and emphasis on the treatment of her indigenous ancestors that were forced to travel the trail of tears, moving her family from their homes. Through her work, we begin to understand the critical role that Harjo has on the indigenous community and the impact that she can make by spreading her message through creative writing.
We would like to thank Joy Harjo again for the fantastic talk at our final fellow’s dinner event of the academic year. We hope to see all of those in attendance again next year!
If you would like to visit us at McFarlin Library Special Collections, we are located on the 5th floor of the library. We are open from 8 am – 4.30pm, Monday through Friday.
We hope to see you soon!