Friday, June 21, 2019

Remember you are this universe (celebrating U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo)

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! And... Happy SUMMER! Be sure to visit Linda at A Word Edgewise for Roundup.

So, I've been out adventuring and not here at my desk... hubby and I traveled to California, where we played on the Pacific shore, watched the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, and eventually made our way to Yosemite National Park. More on this later... we're still recovering! 

Today I just wanted to pop in and share my delight upon hearing Joy Harjo, member of the Mvskoke Creek Nation* named as the first ever Native American U.S. Poet Laureate! So many of her poems speak to me, and a few years ago I got to know her in a different way through her memoir CRAZY BRAVE. Be sure to read it, if you haven't already. And here is a favorite favorite poem, that definitely goes on the "How to Live Your Poem" list.


by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother's and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

(published in SHE HAD SOME HORSES, W.W. Norton & Co., 1983)
...remember snowmelt -- like poetry --
 is a powerful, beautiful thing!
*I added this after reading Mary Lee's post. I have much to learn. Thank you, Mary Lee!


  1. Irene, this poem is crazy beautiful! I sent out some bookmarks in my daughter's graduation announcements (idea copied from Tabatha) that asked the recipient to share a bit of advice with my daughter headed off to university in the fall. One of the prompts was, 'Always remember...' and the wisdom coming back to her via loved ones is so much like this. I now consider Joy Harjo an official loved one! And I really do need to read her memoir. Thanks!

  2. This is the second time for this poem in today's roundup! It's nice to read the words after hearing Harjo read them. I love the idea of "alive poems."

  3. What a glorious poem this is, Irene. The last part of the following line is soul-searching, "Remember the dance language is, that life is. Joy allows us to see life with open eyes in an inclusive world. I wish more people embraced the goodness that is before them.

  4. Joy Harjo's "Remember" is a lovely poem and one that I love too. I'm adding her memoir to my very long "want to read" list. I would also like to read her YA book. I like your pic and the caption - Remember snowmelt . . .

  5. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your trip, Irene! This poem is stunning, and a perfect example of why Joy Harjo is exactly the person we need as Poet Laureate right now.
    "Remember the earth whose skin you are:
    red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
    brown earth, we are earth."
    Thank you for recommending Crazy Brave. I'm off to order it now.

  6. Thank you, Irene, for giving ME much to ponder and remember with this poem. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventuring out west! xo

  7. Irene, thank you for sharing "Remember" such a deep, and poignant poem. Looking forward to reading "Crazy Brave," I've added it to my growing list of books by her. I recently saw a nature program that talked about the stress that our giant sequoia trees are currently in–perhaps you know about the scientists that are climbing to the top to get samples from the trees in efforts to help this dilemma. I've never been to Yosemite, but hope to get there one day… I'm looking forward to hearing more about your visit there! xo

  8. Such a gorgeous poem and such wisdom. It goes wonderfully with Michelle's Little Ditty Challenge this month- a poem offering wisdom to a child written in second person. Thanks for sharing this Joy Harjo treasure.


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