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Oklahoma City Community College Keith Leftwich Memorial Library

Coming and Going in Oklahoma Indian Country

Banner Image. Text reads Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

About the Book

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 through 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 eventually struggled on her own as a single mother while 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 evolution to become an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary. 


"Harjo allows the reader to know her intimately, and we are enriched by her honesty."  

                            - Booklist (from the author's website)


"Joy Harjo is one of the real poets of our mixed fermenting, end-of-century North American imagination." 

                           - Adrienne Rich (from inside book jacket)


About the Author

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  She served three terms as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019 to 2022.

Joy has authored nine books of Poetry, several plays and children's books, and two memoirs.  Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, The Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  As a musician and performer, she has produced seven music albums. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and is the first Artist-in-Residence for Tulsa's Bob Dylan Center.

About the Scholar

Dr. Harbour Winn 

I am married and have three children and seven grandchildren:1) A daughter who spent two years in the Peace Corps in St. Lucia, in the eastern Caribbean. She has a BA Degree in English from Carlton College in MN, a MA Degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Hawaii. With a federal grant she taught at Northern Arizona Univ. and lived on the Navaho Reservation, teaching teachers how to preserve the Navaho language and culture while still educating students in English. Now, she is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley,in Critical Reading & Writing. She and her husband have two daughters, 15 and 12 years old; 2) A daughter who spent a year in AmeriCorps in Los Angeles at an agency working with the homeless to help them develop job skills for finding work. She was employed by a similar agency in San Jose, Ca. for two years. She has a BA in English and a MA Degree in Theology and Service Learning from Santa Clara University in the Bay Area and taught Theology and was the campus minister at Notre Dame High School in Belmont, just south of San Francisco, for 17 years. She has also completed a three-year Ecumenical program to become a Spiritual Advisor. She has now stopped teaching to raise in the Bay Area, along with her husband, twoadopted children, a daughter 8 years old and a son 5 years old.They continue to take foster children for periods of time in emergency situations. 3) A son, who graduated from OSU with a BA in History. For four years he was the assistant director at Lazarus House in New Orleans, a non-profit that provides care and a home for poor men and women who are HIV positive or have AIDS. He and his wife have a 16-year-old son, 12-year-old daughter, and a 10-year-old son. He and his wife live in Denver where he works in the computer industry. My wife has an MA Degree in English and is a retired high school English teacher who taught for 20 years in the Oklahoma City Public Schools at Northwest Classen H. S. and an alternative school for students with juvenile legal problems. She has her National Board Teacher Certification. She has been an adjunct in English at Oklahoma City Community College. 

-As of Fall 2016, I am a Professor Emeritus in the English Dept. I directed the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature for its first 19 years at Oklahoma City University. I have a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon. I teach courses in Literature, Film Studies, Montessori Theory and child development. I also founded and directed the OCU Film Institute for its first 35 years; it shows international films to theOklahoma City Community on many Sunday afternoons throughout the academic year. This Institute was developed over the first 14 years with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Oklahoma Humanities Council. I also directed the Center’s spring documentary film series and the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Poetry Series for its first 19 years. The poetry series has brought distinguished poets to OKC each April. These events are now headed by the new Center director, Dr. Tracy Floreani. 

-For seventeen years, I taught as a Montessori teacher at Westminster School and as an adjunct at OCU in the Master of Liberal Arts Program and the Montessori Early Childhood Program. I spent 6 weeks the three summers before Covid teaching Montessori graduate courses at OCU and in Taipei, Taiwan, where we have offered the Montessori degree. I taught also in OCU’s BA degree program in Singapore at least once per year for 14 years. I taught this August a Montessori course online for the National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Science. I am now a member of the Pambe Ghana board, a non-profit that has developed and supports Montessori education in rural northeast Ghana.

-I was involved with the "Let's Talk About It" program as the state humanities scholar on the original committee that wrote the grant for the funding to begin the program in Oklahoma. I havebeen a scholar in more than 330 of these programs across the state of Oklahoma. I have also developed nine of the themes: “Myth and Literature,” “Survival,” “Writing Worlds: The Art of Seeing in Anthropology, Fiction, & Autobiography,”“Generation to Generation: Contemporary Young Adult Fiction,” “Do You See What I see: Growing Up in the Wide World: Contemporary World Literature,” “Young Adult or Crossover Fiction: Crumbling Borders between Adolescents and Adults,” “Living with Limits,” “Travel: New Ways of Seeing,” and the newest, “Immigration Stories in Contemporary Literature: Suspended Between Borders. I have also been a scholar in three other reading and discussion Humanities programs in the state: 1) “Connections,” which provided book discussion series for newly literate adults; 2) “Prime Time,” which provided book discussion series for elementary school students and their parents; and 3) “Literature and Medicine,” which brought book discussion series to doctors and nurses to reflect on Humanities issues in empathy and care of patients and self. In 2013 I received the Oklahoma Humanities Council’s State Public Humanities Award; was chosen a DaVinci Fellow, DaVinci Institute, in 2012; and received the 2011 Award for Distinguished Service from the Oklahoma Film & Video Studies Society State Film Consortium.