Joy Harjo on "Remember" | The Takeaway | WNYC Studios

Pleasure Harjo on “Bear in mind” | The Takeaway | WNYC Studios


Melissa Harris-Perry: You are listening to The Takeaway. I am Melissa Harris-Perry.


Pleasure Harjo: Bear in mind the sky that you simply had been born beneath,

know every of the star’s tales.

Bear in mind the moon, know who she is.

Bear in mind the solar’s beginning at daybreak, that’s the

strongest level of time.


Melissa Harris-Perry: Pleasure Harjo was the twenty third US Poet Laureate. The celebrated award-winning poet and performer served three phrases on this function. Harjo is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and has revealed 10 books of poetry. Now, certainly one of her poems, Bear in mind, which was initially revealed in 1983, has been crafted right into a youngsters’s ebook. The poem invitations younger readers to replicate on the world round them, to ponder how all of life is interconnected, and to recollect their heritage and distinctive place on this planet.

Pleasure Harjo: Bear in mind the crops, timber, animal life who all have their tribes, their households, their histories, too.

Discuss to them, hearken to them. They’re alive poems.


Melissa Harris-Perry: With us now could be Pleasure Harjo, former US Poet Laureate and writer of the brand new youngsters’s ebook, Bear in mind. Pleasure, thanks for becoming a member of us on The Takeaway.

Pleasure Harjo: I am so glad I might be right here and be right here with you.

Melissa Harris-Perry: I am excited. I perceive that you’re really in our studios in New York with the group, despite the fact that I am distant, nevertheless it’s so pretty to have you ever in our area.

Pleasure Harjo: Nicely, it is good to listen to your voice. The voice at all times says a lot about somebody.

Melissa Harris-Perry: Certainly. I had the pleasure of listening to your voice stay. You visited the college the place I educate, Wake Forest College, final 12 months in 2022, and your second, your studying, your efficiency engaged so many alternative elements of voice, music, poetry, your connection to us as an viewers. Are you able to discuss to me a bit about the way you perceive poetry throughout all these areas?

Pleasure Harjo: Sure. I got here to poetry via music. My mom was a songwriter and used to write down songs on the kitchen desk, and we danced lots. My father was additionally a very good dancer. I got here to know the facility of lyrics, the facility of rhythm, and the connection that it connects orality, which is the idea of all novels, poetry, writing. Orality, it is a residing factor and it isn’t simply concerning the performer. There isn’t any efficiency with out everyone else.

Melissa Harris-Perry: In constructing on that, what does it imply to be a poet warrior?

Pleasure Harjo: The qualities of a warrior. Okay. After I was youthful, I used to be an artwork main for some time on the College of New Mexico and my undertaking that I by no means did, I am desirous about beginning it again up, was to do a portrait sequence of warriors. Normally, you see Native warriors as males from the shoulders up or no matter they usually had been usually the individuals who the English-speaking individuals knew, they usually had been unbelievable of their time and place, however I began desirous about modern warriors too and what makes a warrior. I began considering of all the ladies, their moms. I began considering of their moms. I watched, and I did it myself, I’ve watched so many younger ladies going to highschool, having a job, caring for a house, getting up within the morning, making sandwiches for the youngsters, getting them prepared, working with them once they get again. There’s simply a lot to take care of. It looks like on this day of digital actuality and so forth, it is speeded issues up much more. These younger ladies are a few of our bravest and strongest warriors.

Melissa Harris-Perry: I really like that you simply start that partly by speaking about this artwork undertaking that might be a part of it. Let’s return to the brand new youngsters’s ebook constructed on and tailored from an earlier poem, Bear in mind. A part of what occurs on this youngsters’s ebook is the illustration. It’s the art work. It is illustrated right here by Michaela Goade. Are you able to discuss to us about why you needed to convey this poem to life via illustration?

Pleasure Harjo: This poem has a lifetime of its personal. It was first revealed in ’81, however I wrote it whereas I used to be nonetheless an undergraduate on the College of New Mexico, and I noticed this poem got here to me as a result of that is what I wanted to know [chuckles] as I used to be nonetheless rising up. We’re all nonetheless rising up. We proceed to be taught. This poem, it is on the Lucy spacecraft proper now, individuals have beloved this poem, taken it to coronary heart, have learn it at funerals, weddings, and so forth, and so it was time for it to have its personal place this fashion. The artwork by Michaela Goade is magical.

Melissa Harris-Perry: What was it like working with Michaela to convey this to life?

Pleasure Harjo: Nicely, it was wonderful to observe it come to life. I had a alternative of artists, and her work is unbelievable. Our first dialog was, effectively, she may research my Muscogee individuals’s artwork, motifs, and pictures, however would I thoughts if she primarily based it on her Tlingit individuals? I do know her individuals. I have been up in her group, totally different communities, and I instructed her, “We would like you due to your artwork and your instincts.” I stated, “Go forward. Make it out of your group.” Her different initiatives are unbelievable. Possibly I am partial, however [chuckles] this one is wonderful. It offers the poem one other form of life and it does what the poem is meant to do, is to exit and remind us that we’re this earth. The crops are kinfolk. They assist deal with us. The animals, the winds, we’re all one being.

Melissa Harris-Perry: Okay. Take a pause with me for only a second. We will be proper again with extra with the poet Pleasure Harjo proper after this. It is The Takeaway. We’re nonetheless with Pleasure Harjo who served because the US Poet Laureate from 2019 till 2022. She has a brand new illustrated youngsters’s ebook which brings her poem, Bear in mind, to new life with illustrations by Michaela Goade. Pleasure, as you had been speaking concerning the ways in which your poem, which comes out of your set of experiences, after which Michaela’s illustrations from her peoples, are additionally now on a spacecraft, I suppose the illustrations are, however the poem is, are you able to discuss to me about what it felt wish to be and what it seems like so that you can have your phrases going intergalactic?

Pleasure Harjo: [laughs] Nicely, it isn’t one thing I ever may have predicted. You by no means see poetry at Profession Day.


Pleasure Harjo: It is one thing that I feel you pursue it or it pursues you. It virtually feels to me prefer it’s inbuilt. You come into the world as an artist, and a poet is a form of artist of kinds, and that is built-in. It is a totally different form of means, nevertheless it’s completely obligatory. The humanities are completely obligatory for tradition, for the definition, and for cultures to flourish. That is how we all know who we’re as human beings, is in our arts and in our phrases, our languages.

Melissa Harris-Perry: I really like this, I am by no means going to neglect this, that you do not have a poet featured at Profession Day. I ponder, as you make this level, actually the craving in direction of all the issues that make attainable, sending up the Lucy spacecraft, the science, the know-how, the STEM, the AI, all of these issues, but additionally, there is a rootedness that you simply give us in your work to this extraordinary spaceship that we’re on, Earth, to what now we have right here and our want to guard it.

Pleasure Harjo: Sure, it’s the root. I keep in mind being shocked, nevertheless it made sense once I heard one other poet converse, Linda Hogan, years in the past, and she or he instructed us within the viewers that that picture of earth, that NASA picture of Earth was– It was what do you name it? Categorised doc for some time and never allowed for public as a result of it was so potent and highly effective. We noticed what occurred when the picture of Earth was launched, instantly you had been listening to holistic, environmental. We by no means heard that within the vernacular, within the day by day as a result of instantly, there we had been [laughs] a residing being, blue, and the blue of oceans, and inexperienced, and there was a light-weight coming. There was a light-weight, and there we had been collectively as an individual. That was astounding and it shifted tradition. We have to keep in mind that in nowadays. Every single day there’s tales that present that, sure, we’re shifting. We’re at all times shifting.

All the things is at all times shifting in a residing biosystem and a residing mentality system, [laughs] system of mentality and of spirituality. To stay, there’s at all times motion, however we’re seeing now it is accelerated. Similar to our know-how has accelerated. We’re seeing the world, the adjustments, Earth adjustments accelerated.

Melissa Harris-Perry: I am within the notion that Bear in mind is asking us to try this, to recollect these items, to recollect our earth, to recollect our dad and mom, to recollect our individuals, to not be taught it. To not be taught it anew, however to recollect it. Will we all have it? Can we keep in mind it? Do we all know it effectively sufficient to recollect it?

Pleasure Harjo: It is there, nevertheless it looks like our know-how is about up in order that we do not keep in mind. [laughs] We used to know everybody’s telephone numbers. We do not even name it telephone anymore. I do know I am sounding previous and I’m, however [laughs] it is all in our machines. What occurs when our telephones go away? What is going on to occur? I feel reminiscence is like the rest. You take note of it, you construct it, you construct it with tales, with songs, nevertheless it’s nonetheless there. It is all there on the root. I feel on the root of each tradition on this planet is that this realizing that we’re completely interdependent with the crops and with the presents of the Earth. It is simply that in our indigenous cultures, not less than those that I am aware of, I do not know all of them or every little thing and I am not an skilled, is that what’s on the root is that we’re all associated and nobody is above the opposite. There is no such thing as a hierarchy, and the Earth is a residing being versus, effectively, you possibly can take what you need and dig up and it was given to us by God for us to take what we would like. It is two very other ways of desirous about Earth, or [unintelligible 00:13:11] as we name her in our Muskogee language.

Melissa Harris-Perry: The poem additionally calls us to not solely keep in mind the crops, timber, and animal life, however to speak to them and to hearken to them. How will we discuss to them?

Pleasure Harjo: All the things is power and vibration, and there is communication happening on a regular basis. What I’ve realized is that if I am quiet sufficient, then you possibly can hear. I used to be stunned. One time, my mom had purchased us some crops and stated, “Put it over there on my porch there,” and for the primary time, I heard the crops sitting there saying, “We do not need that plant right here.” [laughs] I assumed, well– I did not query it at first. Later I assumed, what on this planet? However I noticed, one, crops are like human beings they usually have their likes and dislikes, however I heard them, and it is all over the place. All the things has life, our printers [laughs] even. You already know they are often wacky they usually’re very temperamental, however every little thing has energetics and it is shifting. It is vibration. All the things. Each residing factor. Even our know-how, it is manufactured from residing stuff. While you have a look at the world that means, the interconnections are completely there and residing. I’ve loads of different tales, however [laughs] I will not go into all of them now and also you would possibly suppose I am loopy.

Melissa Harris-Perry: As you are telling tales, is there a narrative that for you represents perhaps what was the very best of your time or what you most loved or realized, or what you’ll keep in mind from being US Poet Laureate?

Pleasure Harjo: Nicely, there’s a lot, and a lot of my time period occurred in my house [chuckles] on Zoom as a result of COVID hit not lengthy after I used to be made US Poet Laureate, however what I keep in mind is how astounding the response was, particularly with native individuals as a result of to have somebody on this place, a local individual on this place, instructed the world that we’re human beings. There was a current research carried out that confirmed that about 20, 25% of Individuals suppose that we’re all lifeless, that we’re human beings, and one other was that there have been many native poets and lots of poets, interval. The outpouring from communities was fairly wonderful. I used to be Poet Laureate too at a time when individuals had been hungry for poetry. We at all times flip to poetry in instances of nice transformation, whether or not it is beginning, loss of life, marriage, all of these essential moments of shift and alter. Adolescence. There is a purpose adolescents are normally fervent readers and writers of poetry and music and so forth to doc their time of nice shift turning from youngsters to women and men.

Additionally, the ending occasion I’ll always remember. We had began one of many first native poetry organizations to assist convey up youthful native writers. Their native poets had been there. A younger native poet from my group learn an unbelievable poem she wrote for the event, after which the final day after the occasion, the efficiency, we had a dance occasion out outdoors Library of Congress with an awesome DJ. Oh, we may see the capital and there we had been all dancing. [laughs]. I keep in mind that. I will keep in mind that.

Melissa Harris-Perry: Pleasure, I really like that story. Pleasure Harjo, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at present.

Pleasure Harjo: Oh, thanks.


Pleasure Harjo: Bear in mind the sky that you simply had been born beneath,

know every of the star’s tales.

Bear in mind the moon, know who she is.

Bear in mind the solar’s beginning at daybreak, that’s the

strongest level of time.

Bear in mind sunset and the giving freely tonight.

Bear in mind your beginning, how your mom’s battle to provide you type and breath.

You’re proof of her life and her mom’s and hers. Bear in mind your father, he’s your life additionally.

Bear in mind the earth whose pores and skin you might be.

Pink earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth, brown earth. We’re earth. Bear in mind the crops, timber, animal life, who all have their tribes, their households, their histories too.

Discuss to them. Take heed to them. They’re alive poems.

Bear in mind the wind. Bear in mind her voice.

She is aware of the origin of this universe.

Bear in mind, you might be all individuals and all persons are you. Bear in mind you might be this universe, and this universe is you. Bear in mind all is in movement is rising as you, keep in mind.



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