Item description for In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan Poetry) by Joy Harjo...
Joy Harjo is a powerful voice for her Creek (Muscogee) tribe ("a stolen people in a stolen land"), for other oppressed people, and for herself. Her poems, both sacred ad secular, are written with the passions of anger, grief, and love, at once tender and furious. They are rooted in the land; they are one with the deer and the fox, the hawk and the eagle, the sun, moon, and wind, and the seasons - "spring/ was lean and hungry with he hope of children and corn." There are enemies here, also lovers; there are ghost dancers, ancestors old and new, who rise again "to walk in shoes of fire."
Indeed, fire and its aftermath is a constant image in the burning book. Skies are "incendiary"; the "smoke of dawn" turns enemies into ashes: "I am fire eaten by wind." "Your fire scorched/ my lips." "I am lighting the fire that crawls from my spine/ to the gods with a coal from my sister's flame."
But the spirit of this book is not consumed. It is not limited by mad love or war, and "there is something larger than the memory/ of a dispossessed people." That something larger is, for example, revolution, freedom, birth.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 0.3 lbs.
Release Date Mar 31, 1990
ISBN 081951182X ISBN13 9780819511829
Availability 2 units. Availability accurate as of Jan 24, 2017 02:45.
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More About Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo is an internationally known performer and writer of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She has written seven books of poetry, including "She Had Some Horses" and "How We Became Human", and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Joy Harjo currently resides in Honolulu, in the state of Hawaii.
Reviews - What do customers think about In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan Poetry)?
Poetry "with a revolutionary fire" Feb 20, 2002
"In Mad Love and War" is a collection of poetry by Joy Harjo. According to the author bio at the end of the book, Harjo is a member of the Creek (Muscogee) Native American nation, and grew up in Oklahoma and New Mexico. Much of this book reflects this heritage: "We were a stolen people in a stolen land" (from "Autobiography").
"In Mad Love" contains many cultural and historical allusions embedded in a complex web of surreal imagery and autobiographical-sounding fragments. Harjo seems to be trying to transcend both linguistic and cultural barriers; she notes that "All poets / understand the final uselessness of words" ("Bird"). She does not only focus on the Native American experience; she also has a number of African-American cultural references. She takes us, among other places, to a prison riot in West Virginia and a political discussion in Nicaragua.
Although I found some of the book opaque when I first read it, I found "In Mad Love" to be very rewarding on second and third readings. Harjo's language is often quite startling, and achingly beautiful. Much of the book seeks to find a link between the contemporary urban experience and the world of myth and nature. Throughout the book are many references to animals: the trickster Rabbit, "iridescent dragonflies," "a / turtle's nose above water," etc.
Harjo writes of flooding the city "with a revolutionary fire" ("City of Fire"), and indeed the book does have a strong political flavor. Her melding of political commitment, intimate passion, myth, and multicultural awareness makes "In Mad Love and War" a demanding and intriguing read.
Truthful and technically excellent Oct 30, 2000
Harjo is an excellent poet - her poetry is always truthful even if the truth is one that we prefer not to face. This book contains a number of prose poems as well as modern verse; it is clear that Harjo writes what is true and allows it to take the form in which it presents itself.
This collection includes poems that explore human relationships, music, death ... universal concerns written about in a way that recognizes and uses the universality while selecting the images from her Cree background. We are privileged to glimpse another way of relating to the world while being presented with the difficulties of growing up in a minority culture. "At five I was designated to string beads in kindergarten. At seven I skew how to play chicken and win. And at fourteen I was drinking."
But her command of the language amkes even the starkest reality beautiful: "I am fragile, a piece of pottery smoked from fire / made of dung, /the design drawn from nightmares. I am an arrow, painted / with lighning ...
Harjo is one of the best contemporary poets. Try any of her books and you'll see a poet, a musician, a painter all sharing their vision with you.
Harjo's "language of lizards and stones." Aug 29, 2000
Joy Harjo is reason enough to read poetry. Although IN MAD LOVE AND WAR is not one of my favorite Harjo collections, it is worth reading. In "For Anna Mae Pictor Aquash," Harjo writes, "Beneath a sky blurred with mist and wind,/ I am amazed as I watch the violet/ heads of crocuses erupt from the stiff earth/ after dying for a season,/ as I have watched my own dark head/ appear each morning after entering/ the next world/ to come back to this one,/amazed" (p. 17). In this book, Harjo writes poetry in "a language of lizards and stones" (p. 9), which is not always easy to understand. In fact, for me, many of the 44 poems here are impenetrable. Still, there are plenty of rewarding moments along the way, e.g., finding grace "with coffee and pancakes in a truck stop along Highway 80" (I), "hearing songs in pine trees" (p. 5), and "looking at the stars in this strange city, frozen in the back of the sky, the only promises that ever make sense" (p. 5), making this a book of poetry worth exploring.
Emotionally Insightful and Engaging Oct 11, 1998
Although many of the poems in this book are difficult and dense, the writing and ideas are so engaging that the reading is worth the effort. Native American themes run throughout the book, as well as how language prohibits/encourages communication. The book is separated into two parts, "The Wars" and "Mad Love." The poems of "The Wars" are at times very depressing, especially "Strange Fruit," Harjo's version of a Lewis Allan song, and "For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash...", but as such are valuable insights into cultural and personal conflicts. In "Mad Love," the poems are much less concrete, and sometimes difficult to understand. The reward comes in the discovery of personal meaning. Personal favorites include "Fury of Rain," "Unmailed Letter," and "Blue Elliptic." I loved this poetry book, and continue to go back to it time and time again for beautiful quotes and inspiration.