Posts Tagged ‘joy harjo’


March 21: Celebrating Poetry Day & Fighting Racism Day

March 22, 2013

♥ Joy Harjo

Learn about this amazing Muskoke (Creek) American musician, writer and activist! ♥

Should I dream you afraid so that you are forced to save yourself? Or should you ride colored horses into the cutting edge of the sky to know that we’re alive we are alive.

Read/Listen to her poem Strange Fruit

mediterranean_mapHere is a poem I wrote in 2012 dedicated to the Palestinian people. I wrote it after watching a documentary about a Music School they were trying to create or hold together in the Gaza region (a densely populated area on the planet where you can get killed very easily, apart from having to endure war-like hardship). Olive trees are also connected to the origin of the worldwide movement called Women in Black. Israeli and Palestinian women did something which patriarchal politics abhors, which was plant olive tree together in a shared land. Olive trees are also about our connection as part of the Mediterranean cultures. I’ve translated it into English.

Los olivos (michelle renyé, 2012)

van_gogh_bosquedeolivos1889La piel oliva es dorada y verde.
Los ojos y el pelo negro noche lluvia
y profundos,
como el verano en los jazmines.
Las hojas son verde ceniza por abajo
y se vuelven al cielo abierto,
tantas veces
con tanto esfuerzo, con dolor,
y levemente brillantes
por encima, como un recuerdo
de aceites y manos, de cuando
podían plantar olivos, verlos crecer.

La música está prohibida.
(Es ley en la democracia del genocidio.)
Las personas jóvenes no temen más
que aman, por eso cantan
en un espacio de ruinas secreto.
Sus ojos contienen al fondo cascotes
caídos sobre los olivos bajo el sol
sobre la tierra amarilla gastada agotada,
llana, terrosa, dura, persistente; hecha mirra,
y aprenden a tocar en cajas con cuerdas
y se juegan la vida cuando bailan.

Es lo que nunca cuentan las crónicas que escriben
los padres de todas las guerras.


Olive Trees (michelle renyé, 2012)

Olive skin is gold and green.
Eyes and hair black night rain
and deep,
like summer in jasmines.
The leaves are ash green underneath
and turn and twist towards the open sky,
once and again,
with such effort, such pain,
and slightly shiny
on top, like a memory
of oils and hands, of the time
when they could plant olive trees, see them grow.

Music is banned.
(It’s law in the democracy of genocide.)
People young do not fear more
than love, that’s why they are singing
in a secret space of ruins.
The background in their eyes contains
rocks of rubble fallen on the olive trees under the sun
on the yellow soil worn out exhausted
flat terrous hard persistent; made myrrh
while they learn to play boxes with strings
and risk their lives when they dance.

This is what’s never told in the chronicles written
by the patriarchs of all wars.

Web de Rumbo a Gaza


More on American Indians and related issues

December 17, 2012

Here’s a Coyote story, “Coyote Kills a Giant.” Coyote appears in Native Indian stories and I’ve got a picture of him in a matriarchal tarot I bought in London — Coyote, the Trickster, it’s called.

Here are two poems by Indian women who I later found on the Internet!

  • The Housing Poem, by Dian Million and
  • Strange Fruit, by Joy Harjo – in this recording I try to explain why this poem is so poetical, meaning so powerful, so free — not that I’m happy with my words, really. I love poetry so much I simply hate to speak about poetry. It’s really hard for me! All I say about it sounds worse than keeping my mouth shut, so that’s why I seldom speak about poems, or poetry! 😀

The book that triggered all of this Native Indian reading I got into was this one: Reinventing the Enemy’s Language. Contemporary Native Women’s Writing of North America. The link I have on Talking People is broken, so that’s why I’m posting it here — eventually I’ll get into fixing that and working a bit more on the web page devoted to American Indians.

But anyway, on Talking People, the Native American section in (top right-hand side) in The World – People & Culture
Direct link

I know that talking about First nations in the world feels bad, because they’ve been abused. But today, more and more people are networking, getting in touch, wanting to learn from each other and live together respecting the fact we are all different, too, and this is positive. I mean, we should not look away when we have the chance to learn from other people, even if we belong to the culture that is responsible for all the harm done to other groups of people.

I’m not only thinking of North American Indians, or the indigenous population in Central and South Americas (watch Vía Campesina). I’m also thinking of Romas, in Spain called gypsies — people who were nomadic many years ago and came from India. Gypsie people nowadays are gypsies but lead sedentary lives like ours, have assimilated the alien culture (white’s) but keep being gypsies. I wonder if you would have some time to check all I say here is correct! If you find mistakes or improvable explanations, please, send me an email so I can fix it!)

In Australia, the government had the decency and the dignity to express an apology to the aboriginesSame news in The New York TimesLearning Activity based on this news. Words matter. Apologizing is something that more people should be free to do. Obviously, those words should only be used when we are willing to stop the abuse and when we are also willing to give the necessary support.

SORRY THIS BIT WAS MISPLACED!! THIS IS ITS PLACE: Apologizing to gypsies would be a good idea. However, in Spain, we haven’t even considered necessary to bury all the dead that the Franquist dictatoship refused to bury — something that had never been done in Western Europe, because after every war, the dead, regardless their ideology, were all buried!

David Harrison, in a book I recommended here some time ago (see post), posed the question of how sad it is for languages to go extinct considering they are knowledge systems. He mentions some First Nations or native peoples who have a unique knowledge of nature. A kind of knowledge technological consumerist societies do not have. Many indian languages in the USA have gone extinct, and now people are trying to preserve some of the surviving languages. In Spain we also know about language revitalization policies, because during the dictatorship various peoples who were also Spanish were persecuted, their languages were banned, and when we managed to start building a democracy we had to implement revitalization policies. Fortunately, some of those languages, like Catalan and Euskera (Basque) have been recovered. Euskera was in peril of becoming extinct years ago, but is now in good health. Apparently, it’s the only Iberian language that has survived!! All the languages around here belong to the IndoEuropean Language Family except Euskera! It’s so interesting! Strangely enough, in the Autonomous Community of Madrid it’s very difficult to learn any of the other languages spoken in Spain, for political reasons! That’s really sad, and I do hope some day this won’t be the case! We need a plurilingual world — through language we can build a more civilized society!


Tanita Tikaram, Buffy Sainte-Marie & Joy Harjo

November 23, 2012

Here she is, a songwriter and singer. Twist in My Sobriety is one of her most well-known songs in Spain (I thought!) If you click and get there, you’ll also find the lyrics. If someone knows what the song means, please post!

Two other songwriters and singers who are very interesting, and American Indian (a good follow-up activity for people who are learning about Indians (Native Indians or American Indians) by reading the Sherman Alexie novel (Spokane Indian), are Buffy Sainte-Marie and Joy Harjo (Muscogge, or Creek). Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote Bury My Heart in Wounded Knee is a very powerful song about a few vital issues. The link includes info about Wounded Knee.

We recorded an amazing poem by Joy Harjo, Strange Fruit (yes, it’s the same topic in the song Billie Holiday sang). Oh my! I’ve just found out Joy Harjo’s website has disappeared, so I cannot link to any of her music there. I’ve sent her an email in case it’s temporary or something. I’ve got her music, actually, so I can bring that to class one day. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted!

NEWS (Sunday evening): Joy replied and her website is up again! Check out her Music section. (Link in comment below, sorry!)


The Joy Harjo Project

June 23, 2010

Joy Harjo is a Muscogee/Creek artist, who plays the saxophone, creates music, writes amazing poetry, among many other kinds of explorations!

This project involves…

  • watching her “Reality Show”
  • reading and listening to her poem “Strange Fruit”, which includes a brief comment by Michelle on the power to convey meanings in poetry,
  • reading about and listening to Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit”, and thinking about both pieces of work (All of those resources can be found at the TP webpage on Joy Harjo)
  • and (if you want more) having a look at the Anthology she edited with Gloria Bird (to borrow from your teacher if necessary!), Reinventing the Enemy’s Language. Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America.
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