counter create hit Crazy Brave: A Memoir - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Crazy Brave: A Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

“Compressed . . . lyrical . . . unflinching . . . raw. . . . Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.”—Jonah Raskin, San Francisco ChronicleIn this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the “Compressed . . . lyrical . . . unflinching . . . raw. . . . Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.”—Jonah Raskin, San Francisco ChronicleIn this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice. Harjo’s tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.


Compare

“Compressed . . . lyrical . . . unflinching . . . raw. . . . Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.”—Jonah Raskin, San Francisco ChronicleIn this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the “Compressed . . . lyrical . . . unflinching . . . raw. . . . Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.”—Jonah Raskin, San Francisco ChronicleIn this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice. Harjo’s tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.

30 review for Crazy Brave: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: Oklahoma Joy Harjo published this memoir in 2012, at the age of 61, and I promise you, it is unlike any other life story you have ever read. This memoir is nuts. Crazy. Crazy Brave to be more specific, and it makes me a little giddy that a major publishing house is still taking risks enough to print a story like this one. If you could imagine combining Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits with Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, you might come close to un Reading Road Trip 2020 Current location: Oklahoma Joy Harjo published this memoir in 2012, at the age of 61, and I promise you, it is unlike any other life story you have ever read. This memoir is nuts. Crazy. Crazy Brave to be more specific, and it makes me a little giddy that a major publishing house is still taking risks enough to print a story like this one. If you could imagine combining Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits with Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, you might come close to understanding Ms. Harjo's style. Maybe. One minute she's telling you what it was like to be a 4-year-old with an alcoholic father, and the next minute she's telling you to hold on a minute because one of her ancestors just showed up in the room, demanding she share her story. It's not literal, it's not chronological, it's not traditional, it's not predictable. It's wild, and it's definitely not for everyone, but, frankly, I was disappointed that it was as short as it was. My other disappointment is that Ms. Harjo wrote this memoir in her late 50s, but she only takes us from before her birth until her early 20s. Why? Those of us who are older than our early 20s already know about those wild and wonderful things that can happen at those ages, like choosing the wrong lovers, choosing the wrong studies in school, and having conflicts with parents and siblings. I wanted to know what she's done in the last forty years, when she's been publishing poetry, raising children, recording albums, touring, playing a saxophone and channeling spirits. Damn, lady. Don't end it at the beginning! Ms. Harjo explains that she has lived her life being guided by “the knowing.” She writes: The knowing was my rudder, a shimmer of intelligent light, unerring in the midst of this destructive, terrible, and beautiful life. It is a strand of the divine, a pathway for the ancestors and teachers who love us. She tells us that “the knowing” speaks “softly, wisely,” and that you are always clear on what “the knowing” is telling you, but you don't always listen. She tells the reader the truth (she always tells the truth, by the way, you can feel it): she has sometimes listened to “the knowing,” and other times (like when choosing her violent and alcoholic male partners) she has intentionally ignored this guidance, or intuition. I loved this concept of “the knowing,” and I am guided by my intuition, too, but I wish that she had addressed the application of “the knowing” at more mature ages. I think we often assume that life is more difficult or we are tasked with more challenging issues when we are younger, but now that I'm at midlife, I think it is the exact opposite. I think so much of youth is filled with black and white choices. Midlife is muddier, knee-deep in the gray areas, thicker and more complicated as we age. I wished that Ms. Harjo had taken us deeper into the wisdom that has come with her maturity. Nonetheless, I fell in love with her wildness. Several times as I was reading this I had the odd thought, that this woman has never been "another brick in the wall." For me, discovering Joy Harjo was like finding out that I have this cool, quirky aunt who finally wants to talk to me, after the resolution of some decades-long family feud. I was glad to meet her.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    Happy International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019! Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poets. From both Creek and Cherokee tribal nations, she writes about her people’s history with such a poignancy and grace. Harjo usually includes background information about each poem so that readers can empathize with her as she addresses current events that still plague her people to this day. When I found out that she had written a memoir I was moved to read it. Crazy Brave is Harjo’s raw, poignant story of growin Happy International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019! Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poets. From both Creek and Cherokee tribal nations, she writes about her people’s history with such a poignancy and grace. Harjo usually includes background information about each poem so that readers can empathize with her as she addresses current events that still plague her people to this day. When I found out that she had written a memoir I was moved to read it. Crazy Brave is Harjo’s raw, poignant story of growing up in an abusive home in Creek Territory close to Tulsa, Oklahoma and what lead her to study fine arts. Harjo’s mother divorced her biological father when she was five and her younger siblings were no more than babies. Quick to remarry because she was in need of money to support her family, Harjo’s stepfather was seventeen years older than her mother and an abusive drill sergeant. Keeping a double standard, he would go out drinking and seeing women each night while his new wife had to work two jobs and run the house. The children were not to be seen and if they as much as made a peep, they were beaten with a belt. Harjo’s mother was powerless to stop him because at the time there were few resources available to victims of domestic abuse and even fewer available to native women. Harjo possessed a strong spiritual side and converses with the spirits and this lead to her flourishing in fine arts from an early age. Yet, her stepfather stifled her creativity and had his eye on her. To get out of the house, Harjo attended the Indian Affairs boarding school of International Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and left home for good. She thrived away from an abusive home and studied all branches of the arts including painting, poetry, and dance, winning a spot on a traveling theater and dance troupe that performed for all reservations in the west. Yet, in the 1960s, Santa Fe was the height of the hippie movement outside of San Francisco, and many of these students turned to recreational drug and alcohol usage, Harjo included. Fighting an internal battle to stop her maternal line’s history of alcohol dependency, Harjo was doomed to repeat a cycle of teenage pregnancy and domestic violence. Joy Harjo did not turn to poetry for solace until after she divorced her second husband and her home became a safe house for Native victims of spousal and domestic abuse. As a literature student at the University of New Mexico, her voice and talent flourished as she also took up the saxophone, an instrument she plays to this day. While this slim memoir is another entry into the world of Harjo’s writing, it is not for the faint of heart as there is evidence of rape, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence within its page. It is tough to read what occurred to the women in her family but a relief to discover that they ultimately persevered. Today, Harjo encourages women to seek shelter and her life cause is evident in all of her writing. International Women’s Day celebrates women from all walks of life, and Joy Harjo in her work to assist women victims of domestic abuse should be lauded and included reading on any Women’s Month lineup. 3.5 stars rounded up

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5. I loved spending time with Joy Harjo, a poet, painter, and memoirist, a mother and daughter, part Cherokee, part oil-rich Creek, and part Irish. She genuinely felt like someone I’d like – sensitive, spiritual, artistic and kind. I loved how Harjo opened each section with a quote about one of the four directions, and how the spiritual sense of these both connected to her culture and informed her story’s shape. I felt how Harjo hadn’t lost touch with something more basic and grounded in nature 3.5. I loved spending time with Joy Harjo, a poet, painter, and memoirist, a mother and daughter, part Cherokee, part oil-rich Creek, and part Irish. She genuinely felt like someone I’d like – sensitive, spiritual, artistic and kind. I loved how Harjo opened each section with a quote about one of the four directions, and how the spiritual sense of these both connected to her culture and informed her story’s shape. I felt how Harjo hadn’t lost touch with something more basic and grounded in nature, despite having lived in her country as a second-class citizen. My favorite part was her talk of “the knowing.” This really resonated with me – the experience of this unexplainable sense in your body, and the impulse to rationalize it away. And then, living for years rationalizing until it becomes evident that the knowing, however intangible, just knows. Her poems were sprinkled throughout the memoir, but they didn’t wow me, so I felt they interrupted the flow rather than enhanced it. I haven’t yet read a book of her poetry, so I don’t know how they compare to the ones she selected for this memoir. Harjo had a rich life, and she shares it. But I found myself wanting more. Intensely personal experiences flit by in quick succession, only sometimes pausing to feel through what happened. When she does take the time, it’s lovely. But there’s a sense of intensity buried in the trauma, and of Harjo wanting to share hers as a step towards healing, but of not quite being ready to explore all of its layers. I want to know these stories of Native Americans, and I haven’t read much. I wish Harjo took me deeper. I felt like she was capable of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A contemplative memoir sketching Harjo’s journey toward becoming a woman and a poet. For much of the work she reflects on her youth, thoughtfully considering everything from the origins of her love of art to her struggle to evade her violent white stepfather, but in the final stretch she shifts to recounting her experience of early motherhood, as well as the overwhelming panic she felt in the wake of a string of abusive relationships. The end feels a bit rushed and inconclusive, but Harjo’s acco A contemplative memoir sketching Harjo’s journey toward becoming a woman and a poet. For much of the work she reflects on her youth, thoughtfully considering everything from the origins of her love of art to her struggle to evade her violent white stepfather, but in the final stretch she shifts to recounting her experience of early motherhood, as well as the overwhelming panic she felt in the wake of a string of abusive relationships. The end feels a bit rushed and inconclusive, but Harjo’s account of her coming of age is moving and poetically written.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars Love the raw vulnerability and commitment to art in this memoir. In Crazy Brave Joy Harjo writes about growing up with an abusive stepfather, developing her love and vision for poetry, and escaping from the cycle of abuse again later on in her life. Harjo grounds this memoir in tribal myth and ancestry. The two themes I found most compelling in Crazy Brave: overcoming abusive relationships and healing through art. Harjo writes about her family's and her own experience in abusive relatio 3.5 stars Love the raw vulnerability and commitment to art in this memoir. In Crazy Brave Joy Harjo writes about growing up with an abusive stepfather, developing her love and vision for poetry, and escaping from the cycle of abuse again later on in her life. Harjo grounds this memoir in tribal myth and ancestry. The two themes I found most compelling in Crazy Brave: overcoming abusive relationships and healing through art. Harjo writes about her family's and her own experience in abusive relationships in such a powerful way, showing what draws women back into abusive dynamics (e.g., patriarchy) and the difficult yet ultimately life-affirming act of breaking free. Harjo also writes so purely about her love for art and how it saved her when she could have chosen so many other more damaging coping mechanisms. I appreciated her vulnerability, especially given how she shared about some pretty awful experiences. Overall I enjoyed this one and would recommend to those interested in reading a memoir by a Native woman. While I found the narrative a little dry at times (e.g., this happened, then this happened, then this happened...) and wanted more content toward the end to flesh out her story, I still liked Crazy Brave. Looking forward to discussing it with my feminist book club.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    "It was the spirit of poetry who reached out and found me as I stood there at the doorway between panic and love." Joy Harjo's raw and radiant memoir Crazy Brave is the story of how she arrived at the threshold of domestic abuse, addiction and poverty and stepped through into the possibility of education, art, music and poetry. Harjo's childhood in Oklahoma, where her Cherokee and Creek ancestors were forced to settle after the mid-nineteenth century Indian Removal Act, had enough art and laughte "It was the spirit of poetry who reached out and found me as I stood there at the doorway between panic and love." Joy Harjo's raw and radiant memoir Crazy Brave is the story of how she arrived at the threshold of domestic abuse, addiction and poverty and stepped through into the possibility of education, art, music and poetry. Harjo's childhood in Oklahoma, where her Cherokee and Creek ancestors were forced to settle after the mid-nineteenth century Indian Removal Act, had enough art and laughter and love in its early years to instill in Harjo a deep sense of lyricism and a passion for education. But her father's abuse, affairs and alcoholism broke the family apart. Harjo's mother's remarriage to a predator split the family even further. Harjo escapes, thanks to the music and art she carefully nurtured apart from her stepfather's fists, and made it to Santa Fe as a teenager, attending the Institute of American Indian Arts. It is there that Harjo encounters the vastness and profundity of Native American cultures and the legacy imposed by colonization and genocide. She further explores and develops her poetic and musical voice. She also falls for the attentions of a beautiful man and becomes pregnant while still in school. Despite teenage motherhood, two failed and abusive early marriages, alcoholism and poverty, Harjo digs in and endures; eventually, as a scholar at the University of New Mexico, she thrives. The retelling of these wrenching hardships does not make Crazy Brave a misery memoir. It is about becoming. It is about transcendence and integrity, love of family, and most of all, a tender prayer of peace and forgiveness for Harjo's mother and a ode of devotion for Native cultures. Part prose, part poetry, Crazy Brave is a reflection of a poet, musician, mother and survivor who chose art over despair. It is heartbreaking, haunting, luminous and lovely. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I wanted to read the memoir of the U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo before I read her poetry so I was happy to find the ebook through my public library. From her childhood in Oklahoma until she was accepted into a native American arts school in Santa Fe, this is also the story of how she found her poetry voice. At times she wrote a bit obtusely about events, which felt like her taking a step back from her own experience and asking the reader to fill in the gaps. There is a lot of pain there, but als I wanted to read the memoir of the U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo before I read her poetry so I was happy to find the ebook through my public library. From her childhood in Oklahoma until she was accepted into a native American arts school in Santa Fe, this is also the story of how she found her poetry voice. At times she wrote a bit obtusely about events, which felt like her taking a step back from her own experience and asking the reader to fill in the gaps. There is a lot of pain there, but also a deep spirituality that has pulled her through her life. I marked some bits in Kindle which should show up somewhere else in this review so I will not paste them here.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    The GR book description states: In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. The author's lines describing the abusive family situation of her youth are cle The GR book description states: In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. The author's lines describing the abusive family situation of her youth are clear, albeit emotionally draining. When she speaks of her personal development and transformation through transcendental spirituality the lines become abstruse. Perception of the world around her becomes vague, clothed in bewildering metaphors and unclear. What I saw happening could easily have been expressed in ordinary words. For example, while I might explain a nagging suspicion through intuition, she speaks of diffuse ancestral Native American beliefs confusingly described. Poetry is pretty, but to convey a message is it the best means? The author’s connection with the “natural world” is scarcely touched upon. Her passage toward psychological stability is not explained in a manner that I can understand. I do not believe others can learn from her experiences. You learn little about Native American beliefs or customs. This is a personal story. The author reads her own book. There is a beauty in some of the author's poetic lines, but unfortunately the flow of the words is jagged. Pauses are inserted in the wrong places and the wrong words were emphasized. The import of the lines became unclear. She does have a strong, deep voice that resonates well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    V

    Ate this book in a sitting. One to be passed down through generations. Hauntingly beautiful, poignant, and true. Carefully tells its own story while calmly talking of the universe.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    3.5 stars I've stacked several books by Joy Harjo over the last couple years but it wasn't until she was recently named our U.S. Poet Laureate that I finally grabbed this memoir from the library! Harjo masterfully weaves her life story with tribal myth, poetry, and stream of conciousness. From the loss of her father to abuse at the hands of her step-father, Harjo (of the Muscogee/Creek Nation) found healing as a teen at the Institute of American Indian Arts.  Later, she was able to break the patter 3.5 stars I've stacked several books by Joy Harjo over the last couple years but it wasn't until she was recently named our U.S. Poet Laureate that I finally grabbed this memoir from the library! Harjo masterfully weaves her life story with tribal myth, poetry, and stream of conciousness. From the loss of her father to abuse at the hands of her step-father, Harjo (of the Muscogee/Creek Nation) found healing as a teen at the Institute of American Indian Arts.  Later, she was able to break the pattern of abuse in her life and overcome poverty; raising two children and pursuing her passion for music and poetry. At under 200 pages, this is a brief but powerful glimpse into Harjo's life.  I keep coming back to the vulnerability she shares with readers and how she ultimately found the strength to listen to her inner voice and take control of her own life. Crazy Brave is a beautiful memoir written in an original voice.  I would've loved more detail but deeply appreciate what Harjo has chosen to share and the style in which she shares it. I recommend this to readers interested in memoir, poetry, and Native American heritage/tradition. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    McGuffy Morris

    I have been a follower of Joy Harjo for many years. I have her books and CDs. Her wisdom is deep, abundant and true. It is born of experience, pain and survival, though she imparts her truths with insight and clarity. In this memoir, Joy Harjo recalls important aspects of her life. Joy’s journey in life has been a difficult one. Being of Native American heritage (though mixed), her experiences are clearly rooted in tradition and spirit. Yet, she has always felt this “knowing”. It has been her guid I have been a follower of Joy Harjo for many years. I have her books and CDs. Her wisdom is deep, abundant and true. It is born of experience, pain and survival, though she imparts her truths with insight and clarity. In this memoir, Joy Harjo recalls important aspects of her life. Joy’s journey in life has been a difficult one. Being of Native American heritage (though mixed), her experiences are clearly rooted in tradition and spirit. Yet, she has always felt this “knowing”. It has been her guide and her saving grace throughout her life. Her ability to trust her inner vision, her “knowing”, and this unspoken voice is indeed more than brave. Her example in following this is powerful. I greatly respect the strong ties to nature and the earth found in Native American spirituality. I incorporate many of these beliefs and thoughts, personally. My own heritage is mixed and rough. Unfortunately, I do not know much about this part of my ancestral history. In addition to this brave, lyrical memoir and her poetry, Joy Harjo is a gifted musician. I highly recommend all of her creative and important offerings. She is both inspiring and wise.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Joy Harjo is an amazing poet, writer, songwriter, artist and strong Native woman. Her memoir is heartbreaking and full of life at the same time. Heartbreaking because it is the story of so many native persons. Generations of trauma, generations of colonization. She stated it eloquently when she wrote: "As peoples we had been broken. We were still in the bloody aftermath of a violent takeover of our lands. Within a few generations we had gone from being nearly one hundred percent of the populatio Joy Harjo is an amazing poet, writer, songwriter, artist and strong Native woman. Her memoir is heartbreaking and full of life at the same time. Heartbreaking because it is the story of so many native persons. Generations of trauma, generations of colonization. She stated it eloquently when she wrote: "As peoples we had been broken. We were still in the bloody aftermath of a violent takeover of our lands. Within a few generations we had gone from being nearly one hundred percent of the population of this continent to less than one-half of one percent. We were all haunted." As a Native, you think about this constantly as you try to figure out how to fix things, how to help your Nation heal and become whole again. I know that I constantly think about what I can do to make life better for Natives as a whole. This is why I became an attorney and chose to focus on Indian law. I am still trying to figure it out. :) It is also full of life as you read about culture, traditions, storytelling, the strength in our people. Great book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Neile

    I love Joy Harjo's poetry, but at first when I started this it felt way too all over the place and stream of consciousness for me--but I'm glad I kept with it, as like some poems it gradually came into more and more focus as Harjo talked about her life after early childhood. The earlier images/stories began to her shape the later images and stories. It ended up feeling like an impressionistic, but vital, depiction of childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood. Not an easy read or life, but Ha I love Joy Harjo's poetry, but at first when I started this it felt way too all over the place and stream of consciousness for me--but I'm glad I kept with it, as like some poems it gradually came into more and more focus as Harjo talked about her life after early childhood. The earlier images/stories began to her shape the later images and stories. It ended up feeling like an impressionistic, but vital, depiction of childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood. Not an easy read or life, but Harjo shines through it like a meteor. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laila (BigReadingLife)

    An unflinching but ultimately hopeful look at a hard upbringing and the legacy of Native American genocide and oppression that shaped generations after, specifically in her family. Harjo is the U.S. Poet Laureate and she shares her family story, her dreams, her failures, and her creativity in an appealing mix of spiritual/cultural exploration and memoir.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This one was a hit or miss for me, in the beginning especially. I enjoyed it more toward the end because she wrote about places where I'd lived in New Mexico -- Farmington in the Four Corners region, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. When she described UNM and crossing the traffic on Central Ave. I got little a nostalgic. Other times, though, it felt like I'd start to get into a story and she'd abruptly shift to a memory or a myth or a poem. I guess there's nothing wrong with a metaphorical style and no This one was a hit or miss for me, in the beginning especially. I enjoyed it more toward the end because she wrote about places where I'd lived in New Mexico -- Farmington in the Four Corners region, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. When she described UNM and crossing the traffic on Central Ave. I got little a nostalgic. Other times, though, it felt like I'd start to get into a story and she'd abruptly shift to a memory or a myth or a poem. I guess there's nothing wrong with a metaphorical style and no rule that says you must tell your story in the most direct way possible, period. She has another book coming out soon, and I would read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    James Giddings

    I love the way she covers traumatic incidents in her life briefly and matter-of-fact-ly but dwells lovingly on her visits to the spirit world and relationships with ancestors and guides. Hers has been a triumphant and successful life in spite of great personal and historic tragedies. I'm so glad to understand more of where her poetry and music are coming from. I love the way she covers traumatic incidents in her life briefly and matter-of-fact-ly but dwells lovingly on her visits to the spirit world and relationships with ancestors and guides. Hers has been a triumphant and successful life in spite of great personal and historic tragedies. I'm so glad to understand more of where her poetry and music are coming from.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Caglio

    Excellent book - beautiful storytelling. I’ve always enjoyed her poetry. Would be interested in a follow-up memoir as this was written in 2012 and she has now been appointed the US Poet Laureate for the 2nd year in a row. Highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fergus

    A cosmic, visionary look at her BRAVE Life!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam Bustin

    This book came in the mail, this morning, from a friend. I got my partner to drive home, so that I could rip open the envelope and begin reading.Crazy Brave: A Memoir Something in this woman calls to me. I just finished the book and ... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ... So grateful to Sian who sent Joy's words winging across the miles to me. What do I love most? The straightforward way that she weaves the day to day and the mythical/spiritual and oh the poetry. Three small tastes, to whet your....desire.... From Page This book came in the mail, this morning, from a friend. I got my partner to drive home, so that I could rip open the envelope and begin reading.Crazy Brave: A Memoir Something in this woman calls to me. I just finished the book and ... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh ... So grateful to Sian who sent Joy's words winging across the miles to me. What do I love most? The straightforward way that she weaves the day to day and the mythical/spiritual and oh the poetry. Three small tastes, to whet your....desire.... From Page 20 Though I was reluctant to be born, I was attracted by the music (her mother's song - p).  I had plans.  I was entrusted with carrying voices,songs and stories to grow and release into the world, to be of assistance and inspiration.  These were my responsibility.  I am not special.  It is this way for everyone.  We enter into a family story, and then other stories based on tribal clans, on tribal towns and nations, lands, countries, planetary systems, and universes.  Yet we each have our own individual soul story to tend. From Page 164 To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is kind of resurrection light; it is the tall ancester spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird. It is a hundred horses running the land in a soft mist, or it is a woman undressing for her beloved in firelight. It is none of these things. It is more than everything. "You're coming with me, poor thing. You don't know how to listen. You don't know how to speak. You don't know how to sing. I will teach you." I followed poetry And a final ... Blessing.... From Page 168 May our eyes and ears continue to open to hear and know our ancestors. May we remember the stories. May this story be food for your own.  Much thanks, Joy, for this wonderful work. Go easy ~ p

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    I read this in a single sitting. I didn't intend to, I had things to do but all that fell away when I began to read. Even now I have things to do but they don't seem as important; Wal-Mart can wait. I plan to buy and give copies of this book to my sisters and a couple of friends. There is so much truth, pain, beauty and humor in this tiny book. I found myself laughing out loud at some paragraphs, outraged at others and feeling the same sadness Harjo recalls in others. She writes simply and beaut I read this in a single sitting. I didn't intend to, I had things to do but all that fell away when I began to read. Even now I have things to do but they don't seem as important; Wal-Mart can wait. I plan to buy and give copies of this book to my sisters and a couple of friends. There is so much truth, pain, beauty and humor in this tiny book. I found myself laughing out loud at some paragraphs, outraged at others and feeling the same sadness Harjo recalls in others. She writes simply and beautifully, with honesty and her use of imagery is extraordinary. The poetry flows through her prose and what could seem strange in another writer's hands is natural and real in hers. I enjoy reading her monthly column in the Muscogee Nation News and there are similar elements from the columns in the book. Understated and without anger or bitterness she recounts a life that would have crushed a woman less strong. The book ends with Harjo as a struggling college student with two young children and I hope this means there will be a sequel. I've seen her perform twice and both times were mesmerizing. She includes some of her better known poems in this book and I felt a little thrill recognizing opening lines and reading further familiar words. I also like that she mentions she discovered a fondness for Bizet and the Doors, much as I did a generation later. She deals with some harsh realities of Indian life and I winced a few times and found myself nodding sadly. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys poetry, biography, feminist thought, contemporary history and Native history. No, I just recommend it to everyone.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    The U.S. poet laureate's memoir reverberates with language that reads like English, but seems to come from a world Harjo has created for herself. And that may very well be the case; Harjo's story of her life brims with hardship and heartaches, yet it never ekes a moment of pity. She frames her memoir with cardinal directions and prose that explains what they represent to the earth, to people, to herself. Her lyrical storytelling invites you in while she illustrates ancestral trauma, abuse, famil The U.S. poet laureate's memoir reverberates with language that reads like English, but seems to come from a world Harjo has created for herself. And that may very well be the case; Harjo's story of her life brims with hardship and heartaches, yet it never ekes a moment of pity. She frames her memoir with cardinal directions and prose that explains what they represent to the earth, to people, to herself. Her lyrical storytelling invites you in while she illustrates ancestral trauma, abuse, familial strain, trusting in oneself, and creativity. She imbues something spiritual as well and relays visions of possible futures and evokes emotion rather than clinical or straightforward descriptions. She is in her own league and it's a beauty to witness.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jacques Coulardeau

    RENASCENCE FROM PTIndianGenocideSS A short memoir on the author’s own life as a young Indian woman. As such she both lives in her own time the re-emergence of Indian Tribes and Nation – and was as an Indian very lucky to be able to integrate the Indian cultural Center of Santa Fe as a high school students – and the women’s liberation movement within the Indian tribes and nation – and was as a woman very unlucky with her father, her stepfather, her submissive mother and her successive boyfriends a RENASCENCE FROM PTIndianGenocideSS A short memoir on the author’s own life as a young Indian woman. As such she both lives in her own time the re-emergence of Indian Tribes and Nation – and was as an Indian very lucky to be able to integrate the Indian cultural Center of Santa Fe as a high school students – and the women’s liberation movement within the Indian tribes and nation – and was as a woman very unlucky with her father, her stepfather, her submissive mother and her successive boyfriends and husbands. She alludes once to the postcolonial atmosphere in this fight or struggle for recognition as an Indian and as an Indian woman. It seems clear Indian men are a lot less lucky than Indian women. Indian men due to the past of their tribes and nation systematically fall into alcoholic celebrations, which means overdrinking, drunkenness and then compensating their historical and cultural frustration with violence among Indians, against their life-partners and against whites if any are around. What’s more, these male Indians consider women as pleasure tools and have absolutely no faithfulness. Promiscuity and sexual hunting seem to be natural to them, meaning there cannot be any limit on their unfaithfulness and promiscuous hunting. The more the better, though they seem to like having one slightly more permanent woman for daily service, any service, including children. But we have this picture from the point of view of an Indian woman and it is absolutely poignant, pathetic and disquieting. She, like most Indians, suffers from Post Traumatic Indian-Genocide Stress Syndrome and as such, she has no real past. Indians know their tribes, they know their ancestors on at least three to five generations, they know their culture though they do not practice it anymore. They are often ethnically mixed with several tribes crisscrossing their near past and even some white actors in their genealogy. For her she has to make a tremendous effort to recapture that past culture and when she comes close to it, she cannot really feel it, integrate it, make it strong. And yet as a woman she feels pregnant with it though she does not really know what it is or what it was. For example, in music, she just shifts to jazz which is the production of the Black slaves after their liberation. Nowhere did I find a real picture of traditional Indian music based on drums or other instruments like wooden trumpets, or traditional Indian dancing frustratingly replaced by rock and other Black and White musics, or traditional ways of dressing or even behaving. They live within what they experience as a surge of Indian renascence and yet, except in Santa Fe with the experience in dramatic production and acting, with even a tour in various reservations, she finds no follow-up continuation. This memoir insists a lot more on the woman side of the story with an unfaithful father leading to a divorce, a white stepfather both violent and sexually ill-intentioned, authoritarian and anti-Indian in many ways in the name of some Christian fundamentalism, then a first husband that she has to run after and capture after being impregnated. That leads to a difficult relationship with her mother-in-law, especially since she is hardly 16. And it ends up with a divorce. And then in spite of all resolutions she falls again this time for a Pueblo Indian who leads her into the continuation of what she had sworn to refuse, alcoholic binging, running around hunting for occasional sexual partners, on the side of her husband, and resurging violence in these binge-episodes, also on the side of her husband. And yet there is something deeply Indian in this memoir. First the cardinal points in an anti-clockwise direction, East, North, West, South. Westerners follow the sun and may start from the North or the East but go clockwise. I was surprised the cardinal points were not associated with the traditional Indian colors. East has no color, North is white, West is the direction of darkness, which is close to black, and South has no color. More surprising is that the axis of this world is not set in the memoir, with an underworld, a middle world, and an upperworld. In fact this vertical dimension is entirely flattened into her daily experience with the underworld of her violent and sexually oriented stepfather, with the alcoholic addiction of her male partners, the violence and law-breaking night-time rebellious activities at school in Santa Fe; with the upperworld in some kind of dream about one day going home and finding some celestial escape, with the evocation of a Wind Tribe. But the Wind God is also attached to breathing and particularly the last breath of a person, hence with death. This constant alienation is expressed over and over again in this memoir, for example: “We continued to battle with troubled families and the history we could not leave behind. These tensions often erupted in violence provoked by alcohol, drugs, and the ordinary frustrations of being humans.” (page 89) She does not seem to see, at least in this period of her life, when she still was a teenager, that you must not leave your history behind. If you want to get free from this PTIndianGenocideSS, you have to assume that history and thus to assume the genocide and ask for, demand and request full reparations and reinsertion in society as equal citizens and members. In fact, and this is typical of such victimized groups, it is her being a woman that leads her towards a fight or struggle, just the same way Chicanas are more creative and militant than their male counterparts. And she finds some energy to promote her Indian identity in her being a woman, an Indian woman, even if it is alienated and frustrating. “Our generation was the seventh generation from the Tecumseh and Monahwee generations. Seven marks transformation and change, the shift from one kind of body to the next. Though black Americans inspired us, Indian peoples were different. Most of us did not want to become full-fledged Americans. We wished to maintain the integrity of our tribal cultures and assert our individual tribal nations. We aspired to be traditional-contemporary twentieth-century warriors, artists, and dreamers. “There was also a revolution of female power emerging. It was subsumed for native women under our tribal struggle, though we certainly had struggles particular to women. I felt the country’s heart breaking. It was all breaking inside me.” (page 139) And that’s were this memoir is poignant. Her intention is exactly what she does not do. Sue said to a friend “I’m not interested in marriage or finding yet another man to break my heart” (page 139) but she finalizes her divorce with her son’s father, her first husband, and she runs into the arms of the next one. Even as an Indian woman she cannot reach any stability due to her past experience with her father, her stepfather and her first husband, and due to the fact that male Indians are not able to provide faithfulness to their life partners. It is sad, isn’t it? And she comes to some idealization of her bones that have consciousness and her marrow that is memory. That leads to the simple idea that “no one ever truly dies.” (page 149) But that’s the typical syndrome of PTSS, the fact that real recognition can only be captured beyond death. And that’s no longer sad. That’s tragically dramatic. And she can turn to the West because «the west of endings” can provide some solace. But that solace is more or less what she gets from what she calls “the knowing,” a third-sense consciousness of danger and safety in the near future, and it is set in parallel with a psychic native woman who tells her “Be careful. You are in great danger.” (page 153) And this knowing tells her she has to get into poetry and express herself in such a language that will provide her with freedom. So, she releases her own fear and her own fear ends up afraid of dying in its turn. And then she can live because “to imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of, the knowing.” (page 164) I just wonder if that is not what Stephen King calls the Shining. But this road to poetry may lead to more difficulties than freedom if it does not assume and both vindicates and advocates her Indian history beyond and after the Indian Genocide. Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU

  23. 4 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, whose tenure began on June 19, 2019, and is the first Native American to hold this position. Last year she was elected to a third term by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. Harjo began her first year with a poetry reading and concert. Never one to regard unexpected events as anything other than a part of the cycle of life, the pandemic fired up Harjo's exceptional resilience, versatility and creativity. She was featured in the Washin Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, whose tenure began on June 19, 2019, and is the first Native American to hold this position. Last year she was elected to a third term by Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. Harjo began her first year with a poetry reading and concert. Never one to regard unexpected events as anything other than a part of the cycle of life, the pandemic fired up Harjo's exceptional resilience, versatility and creativity. She was featured in the Washington Post and the Library Congress, in The Poetry of Home, where Harjo and four other Poet Laureates of the United States explored what home means during the pandemic. She is multi-talented (poet, writer, playwright, teacher, artist, musician) prolific, inventive, and a forthright spokesperson for poetry, the arts and freedom of expression in all forms. In her autobiography she recounts the personal and artistic challenges she has lived through. Of mixed-race ancestry, she chose to identify with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (self-referencing as Este Mvskokvlke), and chose the name Harjo to honor her grandmother. She has experienced and witnessed physical abuse in her immediate family and in relationships, self-doubt, alcoholism, suicide, and the displacement and devaluation of Native Americans. She reflects on past choices when her inner being was saying one thing and her actions took her somewhere else; her desire to be an artist, which began at a very early age; raising children on her own while working and learning as a visual artist. The inspiration and fortitude came from her matriarchal lineage. "In the Mvskoke world women are accepted as painters, artists. To make art (whether it be painting, drawing, songs, stories--any art) is to replicate the purpose of original creation." Both her Aunt Lois Harjo and her grandmother, Naomi Harjo Foster, were painters. At at time when Joy Harjo was near suicide is when poetry approached her, "You need to learn how to listen, you need grace, you need to learn how to speak." Through her journey of awakening, she has divined and connected to her place on earth, which is a path of red earth, the color of blood, that spans from Georgia to O'ahu. " ... it needs to be fed with songs, poems; it needs to be remembered ... This earth asks for so little from us human beings." Through her life's path, she fully realized that the connection to her heritage is implicit to her very being. Harjo's poetry is on a grand scale: personal, historical, modern, lyrical, spiritual and more often than not, full of joyful reverence for life and art, "What amazed me at the beginning and still amazes me about the creative process is that even as we are dying something always wants to be born." All quotations are from the Introduction to Joy Harjo's book "How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975-2001". Reviewed by Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Literature & Fiction

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy (Other Amy)

    I played with garter snakes, horned toads, frogs, June bugs, and other creatures. Some of my favorite playmates were roly-poly bugs. They busied about with several legs and didn't trip themselves up. They protected themselves when threatened by curling into a ball. As we played, I could see the light shining around their little armored bodies. Roly-polys! This is like an automatic 5 star from me! OK, no, I will be good. 3.5 stars overall. I must say I really enjoyed this book, maybe more so becau I played with garter snakes, horned toads, frogs, June bugs, and other creatures. Some of my favorite playmates were roly-poly bugs. They busied about with several legs and didn't trip themselves up. They protected themselves when threatened by curling into a ball. As we played, I could see the light shining around their little armored bodies. Roly-polys! This is like an automatic 5 star from me! OK, no, I will be good. 3.5 stars overall. I must say I really enjoyed this book, maybe more so because even though I know next to nothing of Native American culture, it is clear that this author and her folks are my people. From the children running through yards playing with reptiles and bugs to the struggles making ends meet and the bouts of too much alcohol and smoke and the housework that is never done and the poetry that might make it all better. My folks, to the core. (I say this with full awareness of one massive genocide standing between our peoples, which kills me because I am helpless as to what can bring any healing. It is clear to me that we are different, but as all differences do, this resolves down to our same. Because we have been the same kind of coward, and I aspire to be the same kind of brave.) As a read, it is a little disjointed having no grounding in the dream travelling and the visions of things that happen before birth and such, but by the end of the book these things fall into a rhythm, become one of its charms. But then it all ends very abruptly. Nonetheless, I probably would round this up to a 4 star were it not for one of the most gripping stories she tells being "partially fictionalized," with no indication of what exactly was fictionalized. Names changed to protect the innocent? What actually happened? People's reactions? No idea. It is one of the best stories in the book. Ah, well. (3 stars means "I liked it" and I in this case I totally recommend this book.) From page 56: And whom do I call my enemy? An enemy must be worthy of engagement. I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking. It's the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind. The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun. It sees and knows everything. It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing. A door to the mind should open only from the heart. An enemy who gets in risks the danger of becoming a friend.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tina Cipolla

    Joy Harjo is a fixture among college English majors. Somehow I managed not to read her until now, and I'm sorry I waited. This memoir was touching, realistic and honest. She paints a vivid picture of her life growing up in the American West in the 60s, and no matter your cultural background this book resonates. I was rooting for her on the whole way; I found her both likable and courageous. Harjo takes a hard look at some very difficult, if almost universal, issues (poverty, child abuse, incest, Joy Harjo is a fixture among college English majors. Somehow I managed not to read her until now, and I'm sorry I waited. This memoir was touching, realistic and honest. She paints a vivid picture of her life growing up in the American West in the 60s, and no matter your cultural background this book resonates. I was rooting for her on the whole way; I found her both likable and courageous. Harjo takes a hard look at some very difficult, if almost universal, issues (poverty, child abuse, incest, domestic violence, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, etc.) and never once does this author feel sorry for herself for having to deal with these things--and you can't help but admire her for this. Most notable for me in this book, Harjo accomplished quite a feat of describing her Creek religion without it sounding flaky (as some other Native American writers unfortunately do--I'm thinking of Leslie Marmon Silko for example.) She talked at length about "the knowing" and although it goes by other names in other traditions, you will recognize it and be able to relate to it, and you will cheer when she allows it to lead her down the right path and into a situation that permanently alters her life for the better. This is not to say she doesn't still face significant challenges, but she manages to persevere and succeed and in the end the book is an affirmation of a life well lived in the face of sometimes seemingly insurmountable odds.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erik Caswell

    I needed to read this book. And am so grateful for having done so. Joy Harjo's insights into her life and the world it's embedded in, one tethered to ancestors, spiritual messages, and all the grief & power that comes along with--in her words--the knowing, are at once harrowing and healing. She recently was named the first Native American Poet Laureate, of the Muscogee Nation, in the history of the U.S. This memoir shows the time of her youth as one in which, while a resurgence of Native energy, I needed to read this book. And am so grateful for having done so. Joy Harjo's insights into her life and the world it's embedded in, one tethered to ancestors, spiritual messages, and all the grief & power that comes along with--in her words--the knowing, are at once harrowing and healing. She recently was named the first Native American Poet Laureate, of the Muscogee Nation, in the history of the U.S. This memoir shows the time of her youth as one in which, while a resurgence of Native energy, power, and vision was appearing in the art & works of the youth, a terrible plight of domestic violence and hurt assailed their families. There is so much wisdom in these pages, and it's incredible how much fullness is in less than 200 pages. Not a wasted page. This passage, in particular, is continuing to echo for me: "In the end, we must each tend to our own gulfs of sadness, though others can assist us with kindness, food, good words, and music. Our human tendency is to fill these holes with distractions like shopping and fast romance, or with drugs and alcohol." Harjo's memoir for me is a testament to what is possible when we tend to our own gulfs of sadness with bravery, care, and respect.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    Joy Harjo is a master of words, able to weave meaning and lyricism into the story of her life.  Despite adverse conditions from the get go and travelling from one abusive household to another, her efforts did not go unnoticed by friends and other family members.   Told in four parts--childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood (additionally North, South, East, and West though not necessarily in that order) her own manner of storytelling resists that of the colonizer's storytelling stru Joy Harjo is a master of words, able to weave meaning and lyricism into the story of her life.  Despite adverse conditions from the get go and travelling from one abusive household to another, her efforts did not go unnoticed by friends and other family members.   Told in four parts--childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood (additionally North, South, East, and West though not necessarily in that order) her own manner of storytelling resists that of the colonizer's storytelling structure.   Being able to delve into her personhood and understanding of the world enabled me not only to better appreciate and be grateful for what I have and have gone through, but has also aided me in understanding how and what makes us different and what helps to keep that little flame inside of us lit, even when it is roaring, and even when it's dim.   Review cross-listed here!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Clark

    A story rich with the past, and with stories. This will not be one for everyone, as there is some emphasis on story telling, and Native American stories as well, but for me it was an amazing book. Joy Harjo has overcome so much, and I only wish I had learned of her sooner.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marisa Fairbanks

    Stunning in every way!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matt Benkarski

    Joy Harjo’s prose reads like poetry. Her poetry reads like prose. “In a world long before this one, there was enough for everyone, Until somebody got out of line. We heard it was Rabbit, fooling around with clay and the wind. Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would play with him; He was lonely in this world. So Rabbit thought to make a person. And when he blew into the mouth of that crude figure to see What would happen, The clay man stood up. Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal a chicken. Joy Harjo’s prose reads like poetry. Her poetry reads like prose. “In a world long before this one, there was enough for everyone, Until somebody got out of line. We heard it was Rabbit, fooling around with clay and the wind. Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would play with him; He was lonely in this world. So Rabbit thought to make a person. And when he blew into the mouth of that crude figure to see What would happen, The clay man stood up. Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal a chicken. The clay man obeyed. Then Rabbit showed him how to steal corn. The clay man obeyed. Then he showed him how to steal someone else’s wife. The clay man obeyed. Rabbit felt important and powerful. The clay man felt important and powerful. And once that clay man started he could not stop. Once he took that chicken he wanted all the chickens. And once he took that corn he wanted all the corn. And once he took that wife, he wanted all the wives. He was insatiable. Then he had a taste of gold and he wanted all the gold. Then it was land and anything else he saw. His wanting only made him want more. Soon it was countries, and then it was trade. The wanting infected the earth. We lost track of the purpose and reason for life. We began to forget our songs. We forgot our stories. We could no longer see or hear our ancestors, Or talk with each other across the kitchen table. Forests were being mowed down all over the world. And Rabbit had no place to play. Rabbit’s trick had backfired. Rabbit tried to call the clay man back, But when the clay man wouldn’t listen Rabbit realized he’d made a clay man with no ears.”

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.