Joy Harjo’s Inaugural Reading as U.S. Poet Laureate


[ CAPTIONER STANDING BY ]>>HI, HOW ARE Y’ALL? [ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ]
MY NAME IS ROBIN. I’M FROM THE DEER CLAN IN MY
TRIBAL TOWN IS HICKORY GROUND.
I’M FROM OKLAHOMA. [ CHEERS & APPLAUSE ]
>>THANK YOU. [ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] I WAS ASKED TO SAY A FEW WORDS
IN OUR NATIVE MUSOCGEE LANGUAGE. I WAS VERY HONORED WHEN I GOT ASKED.
[ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] LIKE I SAID, I’M FROM HICKORY
GROUND. AND THE HONOREE IS ALSO FROM
HICKORY GROUND. I’M REPRESENTING THE GROUND THAT
MAKES US REAL PROUD ONE OF OUR OWN IS RECEIVING THIS HONOR.
[ CHEERS & APPLAUSE ] [ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] MUSOCGEE PEOPLE, WE CARRY OUR
SACRED FIRES IN THE SONGS FROM OUR HOMELANDS.
TO PRESENT DAY, OKLAHOMA. WHICH WE STILL CARRY ON THAT
TRADITION. OUR CEREMONYIAL WAYS.
OUR LANGUAGE, IN OUR CULTURE, THAT’S WHAT MAKES US MUSOCGEE. WE TRY TO STRESS THAT TO OUR
YOUNG WARRIORS AND OUR YOUNG WOMEN.
I GREW UP MY WHOLE LIFE AS A TRADITIONALIST.
EVER SINCE I WAS ABLE TO GO TWO TRAITS WAS ALWAYS TAUGHT US, IN
WHICH WE TRY TO TEACH THAT TODAY.
HUMBLENESS AND LOVE. THAT SHOULD BE FOR EVERYBODY IN
EVERY WALK OF LIFE EVERY DAY. [ CHEERS & APPLAUSE ]
[ SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] FIRST OF ALL, I LEFT OUT.
I WANTED TO SAY — I WANTED TO THANK THE CREATOR FOR GIVING US
A BEAUTIFUL DAY THAT WE WERE ABLE TO ATTEND HERE TODAY. [ APPLAUSE ]
THE HONOREE, MS. JOY HARJO, SHE
WANTED TO ACCEPT THIS AWARD NOT ONLY BEEN HER BEHALF, BUT FOR
ALL THE NATIVE WOMEN FROM ALL THE NATIVE NATIONS FROM ALL
OVER. [ APPLAUSE ] THROUGH HARD WORK AND PER PERSEVERENCE, ANYTHING CAN
BE ACCOMPLISHED. IN CLOSING, I WANT TO SAY IT WAS
A REAL HONOR I WAS ASKED TO SPEAK.
I WANT TO SAY THANK Y’ALL. [ APPLAUSE ]
>>PLEASE WELCOME TO THE STAGE THE 14th LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS,
CARLA HAYDEN. [ APPLAUSE ]>>GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. I HAVE TO START BY SAYING WOW.
[ LAUGHTER ] WHAT A WONDERFUL TURNOUT FOR OUR
NEW POET LAUREATE. GREETINGS TO THE AUDIENCE IN THE
OVERFLOW ROOMS AND TO EVERY ONE WATCHING THE LIVE STREAM.
THIS PROVES THAT POETRY ROCKS. [ APPLAUSE ]
[ CHEERING ] AND I WOULD LIKE TO THANK ROBIN
SOWEKA, MEDICINE MAKER OF HICKORY GROUND FOR BEGINNING
TONIGHT’S EVENT WITH A TRADITIONAL OPENING.
WE THANK YOU. WE KNOW THERE ARE OTHER MEMBERS
OF THE NATION WHO TRAVELED FROM OKLAHOMA TO BE HERE TONIGHT, AND
THERE’S ONE SPECIAL GUEST WE WANT TO HONOR BEFORE I BRING OUT
OUR POET LAUREATE. BUT FIRST, YOU WANT TO TELL YOU
ABOUT THE LIBRARY’S NEW NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL PRESENT SERIES.
AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, THE LIBRARY HOSTS THE NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL
EVERY YEAR AT THE WASHINGTON CONVENTION CENTER.
AND WE JUST CELEBRATED IT TWO WEEKS AGO WITH MORE THAN 140
AUTHORS AND MORE THAN 200,000 ATTENDEES.
[ APPLAUSE ] AND DUE TO THE SUCCESS OF THE
FESTIVAL, WE WANTED TO EXTEND IT TO A YEARLONG AUTHOR SERIES THAT
WILL CULMINATE AT A CONVENTION FOR THE 20th ANNIVERSARY FOR THE
FESTIVAL IN AUGUST 2020. TONIGHT IS THE SECOND EVENT OF
THE SERIES, AND WE COULDN’T BE MORE EXCITED TO HAVE IT BEGIN
JOY HARJO’S LAUREATESHIP. TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IT, YOU
CAN DISCOVERY THEM FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, VISIT LOC.COM.
YOU MAY KNOW THAT THE LIBRARY’S LAUREATESHIP IS OVER 80 YEARS OLD.
AND ROBERT FROST AND OTHERS HAVE HELD THE POSITION.
MANY PEOPLE FROM FAR AND WIDE HELP US HONOR JOY AS THE NEW UNITED STATES POET LAUREATE.
[ APPLAUSE ] [ CHEERING ]
ON BEHALF OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, I AM HONORED TO
WELCOME KEITH JAMES FLOYD. [ APPLAUSE ]
WE HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU. IT IS A 1903 PHOTOGRAPH OF THE MUSOCGEE CREEK LEADER. [ APPLAUSE ]
WE COME FROM THE LIBRARY IN THE PHOTOGRAPH DIVISION AND WAS
SELECTED BY THE POET LAUREATE HERSELF.
[ APPLAUSE ]>>HELLO, HOPE YOU’RE DOING WELL
TONIGHT. GIVES ME A PLEASURE TO WELCOME
YOU TO THE PROGRAM TONIGHT. ON BEHALF OF MUSOCGEE CREEK
NATION AS PRINCIPAL CHIEF, WE WELCOME YOU TONIGHT.
IT’S SUCH A PLEASURE TO BE UP HERE AT THIS TIME.
I WANTED TO SPEAK A LITTLE ABOUT THE MUSOCGEE CREEK NATION.
WE’RE THE FOURTH LARGEST TRIBE IN THE UNITED STATES WITH MORE
THAN 88,000 MEMBERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
WE HAVE OUR HEADQUARTERS IN OKLAHOMA.
WE LIVE IN OKLAHOMA NOW, BUT WE’RE TRADITIONALLY A SOUTHEAST
TRIBE. WE HAVE SEVEN STATES IN THE
SOUTHEAST, PRIMARILY OUR TRADITIONAL HOMELAND, MOST
IMPORTANTLY STATES OF ALABAMA, GEORGIA AND FLORIDA.
WE ARE REMOVED TRAIL TEARS TO INDIAN TERRITORY IN THE 1830’S.
THE REASON I BRING THAT TO BEAR IS JOY IS A CITIZEN OF MUSOCGEE
CREEK NATION. WE HAVE A BEAUTIFUL HISTORY.
AND BEAUTIFUL CULTURE TO SHARE. AND WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL SEE
THE BEAUTY OF OUR PEOPLE THROW — THROUGH JOY AS SHE FULFILLS
THE POET LAUREATE DURING HER TERM.
WE ARE ALSO A MATRIARCHAL SOCIETY AND PLAY AN IMPORTANT
ROLE IN EVERYTHING WE DO EVERY DAY.
WE HOPE YOU SEE THAT IN THE WORKS OF JOY AS SHE HOLDS THIS
POSITION AND GOES OUT AMONG THE WORLD.
WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN AS MUCH AND BEFORE THE INFLUENCE SHE’S
HAVING OF THE YOUNG WOMEN OF MUSOCGEE CREEK NATION AND THE
WOMEN OF MUSOCGEE CREEK NATION AND WOMEN OF THE WORLD TO BRING
THEM FORTH IN THE FULL POWER THEY HAVE AND SHOULD HAVE.
WE’RE VERY PLEASED TONIGHT AND WE HOPE YOU ENJOY THE CEREMONY.
AND WE THANK YOU FOR THE PHOTOGRAPH.
SO VERY PLEASED TO HAVE THAT. HE PLAYS AN IMPORTANT PART IN
THE HISTORY OF OUR NATION. AND HOPEFULLY, YOU’LL LEARN AND
HEAR MORE ABOUT HIM. [ APPLAUSE ]
>>AND NOW, ON TO OUR LAUREATE. FIVE MONTHS AGO, AFTER A LONG
PROCESS THAT INCLUDED NOMINATIONS BY OVER 90 CRITICS,
SCHOLARS, ART ADMINISTRATORS AND PREVIOUS POET LAUREATES, I GOT A
CHANCE TO GIVE JOY HARJO A CALL. SHE HAD BEEN TOLD BY THE POETRY
AND LITERATURE CENTER WE HAD A QUICK QUESTION TO ASK.
[ LAUGHTER ] AND I GOT STRAIGHT TO THE POINT.
WOULD SHE SERVE AS THE UNITED STATES POET LAUREATE?
>>WOO!>>THAT’S HOW WE FELT.
EVERYONE IN THE OFFICE WAS EXCITED ABOUT THE CALL.
CROWDED AROUND, WE HAD SEEN ADVANCED COPIES OF AN AMERICAN
SUNRISE AND FELT IT WOULD BE THE PERFECT COLLECTION TO COINCIDE
WITH HER LAUREATESHIP. WE KNEW OVER THE COURSE OF
NEARLY A HALF CENTURY LONG CAREER SHE HAD PUBLISH SOD MANY
GREAT AND NECESSARY BOOKS FROM EARLY POETRY COLLECTIONS SUCH
AS, SHE HAD SOME HORSES AND — [ APPLAUSE ]
— IN MAD LOVE AND WAR. [ APPLAUSE ]
TO HER RECENT MEMOIR, “CRAZY BRAVE.”
[ CHEERING ] WE ALSO KNEW JOY TO BE AN YOU A
WARD WINNING MUSICIAN WHO LONGED CHAMPION THE POWER OF VOICE AND
SONG AS WELL AS A DEDICATED TEACHER AND MENTOR FOR
GENERATIONS OF WRITERS AND FELT PROUD THAT JOY, AS A MEMBER OF
THE NATION, WOULD SERVE AS OUR FIRST NATIVE-AMERICAN POET
LAUREATE. [ APPLAUSE ] [ CHEERING ]
BACK TO THE CALL. [ LAUGHTER ]
CROWDED AROUND, WELL, THERE WAS A PAUSE.
AND WE FELT THAT WE HAD CAUGHT HER A LITTLE BY SURPRISE.
BUT THANKFULLY, SHE SAID YES. AND SO WE ARE HERE TONIGHT TO
CELEBRATE THE START OF HISTORIC AND MUCH ANTICIPATED
LAUREATESHIP. SHE HAS ALREADY DONE SO MUCH ON
BEHALF OF POETRY. BUT THE COUNTRY AND THE WORLD
WILL GAIN EVEN MORE FROM HER APPOINTMENT.
SHE WILL CONTINUE TO HELP ALL OF US SEE THE WORLD A NEW AND
UNDERSTAND OUR PAST, CONNECT US TO WHO WE ARE, AND WHERE WE ARE.
AND SHOW US HOPEFULLY, HOW WE CAN MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER.
SO PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING THE 23rd POET LAUREATE
CONSULTANT IN POETRY, JOY HARJO. [ CHEERING ] [ APPLAUSE ]
>>THANK YOU. THIS ROOM IS ALL MY FAMILY, YOU CAN TELL.
[ LAUGHTER ] YOU KNOW, THIS IS THE POWER OF
POETRY. IT’S BOUGHT ALL OF US HERE. I’M GOING TO START OUT AND THANK YOU
FOR SOWEKA, KEITH AND CARLA. IT’S AMAZING BECAUSE THAT’S HOW
IT IS. POETRY DOESN’T JUST EMERGE, AT
THE MERGES FROM THE SOUL OF A COMMUNITY, FROM A COMMUNITY’S
HISTORY, MYTHOLOGICAL STRUCTURES, THE HEART OF THE
PEOPLE. AND IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE LAND
BECAUSE WE ARE THE EARTH. AND SO WE’RE HERE TONIGHT TO
CELEBRATE POETRY. AND I’M GOING TO START OUT WITH
A LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. PLEASE BEAR WITH ME, WITH MY
SYSTEM HERE. [ LAUGHTER ]
WE GREATFULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THE NATIVE PEOPLE’S ON WHOSE AND
ZEST TRAL HOMELANDS WE ARE GATHERED TOGETHER THIS EVENING
AS WELL AS THE DIVERSE AND VIBRANT NATIVE COMMUNITIES WHO
MAKE THEIR HOME HERE. AND ALSO, REMEMBER ALL THOSE
TRIBAL NATION REPRESENTATIVES WHO CAME HERE AND CONTINUE TO
ARISE HERE IN THIS CITY TO SEEK JUSTICE.
[ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU.
I’M JOINED HERE WITH MY BAND. I GOT ROBERT MULLER HERE. [ APPLAUSE ]
HOWARD CLOUD ON BASS. LARRY MITCHELL ON GUITAR. [ APPLAUSE ]
I’LL INTRODUCE THEM MORE FULLY IN A LITTLE BIT.
I WAS BACK THERE MAKING UP BIOS FOR THEM.
[ LAUGHTER ] FICTIONALIZED BIOS. ANYWAY, WE’RE REALLY HONORED TO
BE HERE TO CELEBRATE POETRY. AND WE’RE GOING TO START OUT,
IT’S GOING TO BE CHRONOLOGICAL. AND ONE OF THE EARLIEST POEMS
WAS ACTUALLY REMEMBER. BECAUSE POETRY HAS BEEN ONE OF
MY BIGGEST TEACHERS AND IT’S TAUGHT ME — IT TEACHES ME HOW
TO LISTEN. HE WAS THE LEAST LIKELY PERSON
TO BE A POET. I WAS GOING TO BE A PAINTER LIKE MY GRANDMOTHER, NAOMI AND MY
AUNT, LOIS, BECAUSE I COULD PAINT AND PAINT AND DIDN’T HAVE
TO SPEAK. ONE NIGHT, POETRY CAME TO ME AND
SAID, YOU’RE COMING WITH ME. YOU NEED TO LEARN HOW TO LISTEN.
AND YES WE KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE A HARD ROAD ESPECIALLY FOR US
WHO ARE TEACHING YOU. AND I TOOK IT ON, AND IT’S BEEN
MY BIGGEST TEACHER. BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO INTO THE
PLACE OF POETRY AS A WRITER OR READER OF POETRY, YOU GO INTO
THAT PLACE BEYOND TIME. YOU GO INTO THE PLACE BEYOND WORDS.
YOU FIND THINGS THERE. YOU FIND YOURSELF.
YOU FIND ANCESTORS.
YOU FIND THOSE STONES NEAR BY CAN SPEAK AND TREES HAVE THEIR
OWN LANGUAGE. NOW THE SCIENTISTS ARE COMING
OUT WITH ALL KINDS OF BOOKS ABOUT, THIS BUT THIS IS PART OF
OUR OWN KNOWLEDGE. IT’S CALLED REMEMBER.
IT’S FOR THE ANCESTORS HERE. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ REMEMBER THE SKY YOU WERE BORN
UNDER. KNOW EACH OF THE STAR’S STORIES.
REMEMBER THE MOON WHO SHE IS. REMEMBER THE SUN’S BIRTH AT DAWN
THAT IS THE STRONGEST POINT OF TIME.
REMEMBER SUN DOWN AND THE GIVING AWAY TONIGHT.
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.
LISTEN TO THEM. TALK TO THEM.
THEY ARE A LIVE POEM. REMEMBER THE WIND.
REMEMBER HER VOICE. SHE KNOWS THE ORIGIN OF THIS
UNIVERSE. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE ALL
PEOPLE, AND ALL PEOPLE ARE YOU. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE THIS
UNIVERSE AND THIS UNIVERSE IS YOU.
REMEMBER LANGUAGE THAT COMES FROM US.
REMEMBER THE DANCE THAT LANGUAGE IS.
THAT LIFE IS. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ APPLAUSE ] OKAY.
I NEED TO TURN MY MIC ON. AND WHERE IS MY MIC?
THERE IT IS. I ALSO WANTED TO SAY THAT EVERY
POEM HAS POETRY ANCESTORS. OF COURSE, I THINK OF THAT POEM.
THERE’S ALWAYS WALT WITTMAN HANGING OUT THERE.
HE’S ALWAYS THERE. AND I THINK OF SOME OF OUR OLD
SONGS THAT ALWAYS REMIND US TO REMEMBER, REMEMBER WHO WE ARE.
REMEMBER TO BE HUMBLE. REMEMBER THAT WE’RE ALL HERE
TOGETHER. OKAY. SO THIS IS “SHE HAD SOME
HORSES.” [ APPLAUSE ]
AND THE ANCESTORS HERE, THERE’S A LOT OF THEM.
I’M 7th GENERATION, AND HE HAD A THING WITH HORSES SO HE’S PART OF THIS.
AND WHEN I STARTED WRITING POETRY I WAS A STUDENT AT THE
UNIT OF NEW MEXICO AND HEARD A LOT OF NAVAJO HORSE SONGS.
THOSE OF PART OF THIS, AND ALLAN GINSBURG, OF COURSE.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINEAGES.
OKAY. WE CAN GO AHEAD.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ SHE HAD SOME HORSES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WERE BODIES OF SAND.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WERE MAPS DRAWN OF BLOOD.
SHE HAD HORSES WERE SKINS OF OCEAN WATER.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WERE THE BLUE AIR OF SKY.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WERE CLAY AND WOULD BREAK.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WOULD SPLINTER RED CLIFFS.
SHE HAD SOME HORSES. SHE HAD HORSES WITH EYES OF
TRAINS. SHE HAD HORSES WITH FULL BROWN
THIGHS. SHE HAD HORSES WHO LAUGHED TOO
MUCH. SHE HAD HORSES WHO THREW ROCKS
AT GLASS HOUSES. SHE HAD HORSES WHO LICKED RAZOR
BLADES. SHE HAD SOME HORSES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO DANCED IN THEIR MOTHER’S ARMS.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO THOUGHT THEY WERE THE SUN AND THEIR BODIES
SHONE AND BURNED LIKE STARS. SHE HAD HORSES WHO WALTZED
NIGHTLY ON THE MOON. SHE HAD HORSES WHO WERE MUCH TOO
SHY AND KEPT QUIET IN STALLS OF THEIR OWN MAKING.
SHE HAD SOME HORSES. SHE HAD HORSES WHO LIKED CREEK
STOMP DANCE SONGS. SHE HAD HORSES WHO CRIED IN
THEIR BEER. SHE HAD HORSES WHO SPIT AT MALE
QUEENS WHO MADE THEM AFRAID OF THEMSELVES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO SHADE THEY WEREN’T AFRAID.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO LIED. SHE HAD HORSES WHO TOLD THE
TRUTH, WHO WERE STRIPPED BARE OF THEIR TONGUE.
SHE HAD COME HORSES. SHE HAD HORSES WHO CALLED
THEMSELVES HORSE. SHE HAD HORSES WHO CALLED
THEMSELVES SPIRIT AND KEPT THEIR VOICES SECRET AND TO THEMSELVES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO HAD NO NAMES. SHE HAD HORSES WHO HAD BOOKS OF NAMES.
SHE HAD SOME HORSES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO WIS PERKED IN THE — WHISPERED IN THE DARK WHO
WERE AFRAID TO SPEAK. SHE HAD HORSES WHO SCREAMED OUT
OF FEAR OF THE SAY LEANS WHO CARRIED KNIVES TO PROTECT
THEMSELVESES FROM GHOSTS. SHE HAD HORSES WHO WAITED FOR
DESTRUCTION. SHE HAD HORSES WHO WAITED FOR
RESURRECTION. SHE HAD SOME HORSES.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO GOT DOWN ON THEIR KNEES FOR ANY SAVIOR.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO THOUGHT THEIR HIGH PRICE HAD SAVED THEM.
SHE HAD HORSES WHO TRIED TO SAVE HER, WHO CLIMBED IN HER BED AT
NIGHT AND PRAYED. SHE HAD SOME HORSES.
SHE HAD SOME HORSES SHE LOVED. SHE HAD SOME HORSES SHE HATED
THESE WERE THE SAME HORSES.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ CHEERING ] [ APPLAUSE ]
>>THANK YOU. I’M NOT ALWAYS LOGICAL IN HOW I
PROCEED. AND PLAYING SAXOPHONE AND HAVING
TO READ AT THE SAME TIME DOESN’T ALWAYS MAKE SENSE.
BUT I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THE VOICE OF THE SAXOPHONE AND I CAME TO
POETRY THROUGH MUSIC ALSO. MUSIC, POETRY AND DANCE ALL CAME
INTO THE WORLD TOGETHER AND THEY GOAT LONELY FOR EACH OTHER
SOMETIMES. THIS NEXT POEM CAME WHEN I
NEEDED IT. WELL, THEY ALL DO.
SOMETIMES THEY COME AND I DON’T THINK I NEED THEM.
I DON’T KNOW WHO THEY ARE. THEY’RE STRANGE SOMETIMES.
I WILL — SOMETIMES I’LL WONDER, WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
EVEN LIKE THE BOOK, “AN AMERICAN SUNRISE”, I KNOW THE IMPULSE AND
HOW IT STARTED AND I’VE BEEN THROUGH THIS JOURNEY AND I’M
STARTING TO GET WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO TEACH ME.
THIS NEXT ONE CAME AT A TIME, IT’S CALLED “I GIVE YOU BACK “OR
FEAR POEM. ONE OF ITS POETRY ANCESTORS IS
ODD AUDREY LORD AND HER BOTH FOR SUR SURVIVAL.
WE NEED TO TRANSFORM TO STOP STORMS IN OUR PAST.
AND WE NEED TO DO THAT BECAUSE EVERY ONE HAS STORMS IN OUR
PAST. AND THIS POEM CAME WHEN I NEEDED
IT. AND LIKE ME, I ALMOST DIDN’T
MAKE IT.
I CAME UP THROUGH IT’S NOT JUST NATIVE PEOPLE THAT DEAL WITH
HISTORICAL TRAUMA. IT’S THE WHOLE COUNTRY.
ALL OF US. THIS IS ALL PART OF OUR STORY
AND WE ALL HAVE PART OF THE STORY.
WE ALL HAVE POEMS THAT ARE PART OF THE STORY.
I RELEASE YOU, MY BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE FEAR.
I RELEASE YOU. YOU ARE MY BE LOVED AND HATED
TWIN. BUT KNOW I DON’T KNOW YOU
MYSELF. I RELEASE YOU WITH ALL THE PAIN
— I RELEASE YOU WITH ALL THE PAIN I WOULD KNOW WITH THE DEATH
OF THE MY CHILDREN. YOU ARE NOT MY BLOOD ANYMORE.
I GIVE YOU BACK TO THE SOLDIERS WHO BURNED DOWN OUR HOMES,
BEHEADED OUR CHILDREN, RAPED OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS.
GAVE BACK TO YOU WHO STOLE FOOD WHEN YOU WERE STARVING.
I RELEASE YOU FEAR BECAUSE YOU HOLD SCENES IN FRONT OF ME AND I
WAS BORN WITH EYES THAT CAN NEVER CLOSE.
I RELEASE YOU, I RELEASE YOU, I RELEASE YOU, I RELEASE YOU I AM
NOT AFRAID TO BE ANGRY. I AM NOT AFRAID TO REJOICE.
I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE BLACK. I AM NOT AFRAID WHITE I AM NOT
AFRAID TO BE HUNGRY. I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE FULL.
I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE HATED. I AM NOT AFRAID TO BE LOVED, TO
BE LOVED, TO BE LOVED. FEAR, OH, YOU CHOKED ME.
BUT I GAVE YOU THE LEASH. YOU GUTTED ME, BUT I GAVE YOU
THE KNIFE. YOU HAVE DEVOURED ME BUT I LAID
MYSELF ACROSS THE FIRE. I TAKE MYSELF BACK HERE.
YOU ARE NOT MY SHADOW ANY LONGER.
I WON’T HOLD YOU IN MY HANDS. YOU CAN’T LIVE IN MY EYES,
VOICE, BELLY OR MY HEART, MY HEART, MY HEART, MY HEART. BUT COME HERE, FEAR, I AM ALIVE.
YOU ARE SO AFRAID OF DYING. [ APPLAUSE ]
I’M FROM OKLAHOMA. [ APPLAUSE ]
AND I WAS RAISED THERE. I GREW UP WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVED
ME, BUT WE WERE ALL GOING THROUGH A LOT.
BUT THAT LOVE SUSTAINS. AND AS A KID, SOMETIMES YOU GET
MOMENT WHERE IS YOU CAN SEE THE STORY AND CHILDREN ARE MORE
CAPABLE OF — THEY SEE AND MORE KNOW THAN WHAT WE OFTEN GIVE
THEM CREDIT FOR. GO BACK TO WHEN YOU WERE A SMALL
CHILD AND YOU COULD SEE THE WHOLE STORY.
YOU KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON. BUT I WOUND UP GOING — AND PART
OF IT, TOO, WAS I THINK ARTIST GO THROUGH THIS AND YOU ADD
BEING A NATIVE ARTIST AND FEMALE ARTIST AND YOU CAN FEEL
UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE WORLD TRYING TO FIT IN THE WORLD AND
HOW YOU’RE GOING TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
I GOT THE OPPORTUNITY. I WENT TO SIGN UP FOR INDIAN
SCHOOL AND WE WERE LEAVING THE OFFICE AND MY MOTHER SAID, SHE
CAN DRAW. SO THEY SENT ME TO THE INSTITUTE
OF AMERICAN INDIAN ARTS. YES.
[ APPLAUSE ] WHICH, AT THAT TIME, WAS BUREAU
OF INDIAN AFFAIRS SCHOOL. AND RUN BY THE BIA.
IT WAS QUITE AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIMENT IN EDUCATION WHERE WE
HAD THE BEST TEACHERS AND INCREDIBLE ART’S TEACHERS AND AN
A SYSTEM OF LIKE BUREAU LANGUAGE, ARMY LANGUAGE.
AND YOU STILL WEREN’T ALLOWED TO SPEAK YOUR NATIVE LANGUAGE AT
SCHOOL. AND THAT WAS THE LATE ’60s.
I GUESS THAT’S A LONG, LONG TIME AGO FOR SOME OF YOU.
IN THE OLD ENDAYS.
[ LAUGHTER ] BUT THAT SCHOOL SAVED MY LIFE.
AND GOOD TEACHERS ARE PART OF THAT.
AND BECAUSE — AND THEN I WOUND UP — IT DID SAVE MY
LIFE AND IT’S TURNED INTO THIS WONDERFUL SCHOOL AND COLLEGE.
AND PEOPLE HAD THAT VISION ALL ALONG, AND I’M HONORED TO BE
PART OF THAT. SO, ANYWAY, I WOUND UP THERE AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO KEVA CLUB AND PART OF THE NATIVE
RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND THAT’S WHEN I STARTED WRITING POETRY.
BECAUSE THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT NEEDED TO BE SAID, AND I DIDN’T
WANT TO BE THE ONE TO SAY IT. I WOULD NEVER SPEAK UP.
I WAS TOLD I WAS ONE OF THE SHYEST KIDS AT INDIAN SCHOOL.
THAT’S PRETTY SHY. [ LAUGHTER ]
BUT THIS POETRY STARTED MOVING ABOUT, AND I WANTED TO
ACKNOWLEDGE MY FIRST POETRY TEACHER HERE, DAVID JOHNSON, AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO. [ APPLAUSE ]
WHERE ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU, DAVID?
I DON’T SEE YOU. ANYWAY, HE’S HERE.
HE IS HERE. AND THIS SONG, THE EARTH ASK
LITTLE FOR US HUMANS AND WE’RE FAILING THE LITTLE EARTH ASKS OF
US BECAUSE WE’RE ALL IN A CRISIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE NEED TO
LEARN TO LISTEN, ALL OF US. AND POETRY IS ONE OF THOSE
MEANS. YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE EARTH.
THE EARTH HAS ALL KINDS OF SONGS, BUT OFTEN IT’S IN POETRY
YOU WITH HEAR THEM. THIS IS IN HONOR OF THIS
BEAUTIFUL LAND, IT’S “MY HOUSE IS THE RED EARTH.” ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ MY HOUSE IS THE RED EARTH.
IT COULD BE THE CENTER OF THE WORLD.
I’VE HEARD NEW YORK, PARIS, TOKYO CALLED THE CENTER OF THE
WORLD, BUT I SAY IT’S HUMBLE. YOU COULD DRIVE BY AND MISS IT.
RADIO WAVES CAN OBSCURE IT, WORDS CANNOT DESTRUCT IT.
FOR THERE ARE SOME SOUNDS LEFT TO SACRED WORDLESS FORM.
FOR INSTANCE, THAT FOOL CROW PICKING THROUGH TRASH NEAR THE
CORRAL. UNDERSTANDS THE CENTER OF THE
WORLD AS GREASY SCRAPS OF FAT. JUST ASK HIM.
HE DOESN’T HAVE TO SAY THAT THE EARTH HAS TURNED SCARLET THROUGH
FIERCE BELIEF AFTER CENTURIES OF HEART BREAK AND LAUGHTER.
HE PERCHES ON THE BLUE BOWL OF THE SKY AND LAUGHS.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ IF YOU LOOK WITH YOUR MIND IN
THE SWIRLING EARTH AND SHIP ROCK.
YOU BECOME THE LAND BEAUTIFUL AND UNDERSTAND HOW THREE CROWS
AT THE EDGE OF THE HIGHWAY LAUGHING BECOME THREE CROWS AT
THE EDGE OF THE WORLD LAUGHING.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ DON’T BOTHER THE EARTH SPIRIT WHO LIVES HERE. SHE IS WORKING
ON A STORY. IT IS THE OLDEST STORY IN THE WORLD AND IT IS
DELICATE, CHANGING. IF SHE SEES YOU WATCHING SHE WILL INVITE YOU
IN FOR COFFEE, GIVE YOU WARM BREAD, AND YOU WILL BE OBLIGATED
TO STAY AND LISTEN. BUT THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORY. YOU WILL HAVE
TO ENDURE EARTHQUAKES, LIGHTNING, THE DEATHS OF ALL
THOSE YOU LOVE, THE MOST BLINDING BEAUTY. IT’S A STORY SO
COMPELLING YOU MAY NEVER WANT TO LEAVE; THIS IS HOW SHE TRAPS
YOU. SEE THAT STONE FINGER OVER THERE? THAT IS THE ONLY ONE WHO
EVER ESCAPED.DON’T BOTHER THE EARTH SPIRIT WHO LIVES HERE. SHE
IS WORKING ON A STORY. IT IS THE OLDEST STORY IN THE WORLD AND IT
IS DELICATE, CHANGING. IF SHE SEES YOU WATCHING SHE WILL
INVITE YOU IN FOR COFFEE, GIVE YOU WARM BREAD, AND YOU WILL BE
OBLIGATED TO STAY AND LISTEN. BUT THIS IS NO ORDINARY STORY.
YOU WILL HAVE TO ENDURE EARTHQUAKES, LIGHTING,
THE DEATHS OF ALL THOSE YOU LOVE.
THE MOST BLINDING BEAUTY. IT’S A STORY SO COMPELLING YOU
MAY NEVER WANT TO LEAVE. THIS IS HOW SHE TRAPS YOU.
SEE THAT STONE FINGER OVER THERE?
THAT’S THE ONLY ONE WHOEVER ESCAPES.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ APPLAUSE ] THIS NEXT POEM IS A POETRY AND ASSESS TORE OF THIS NEXT POEM,
THE EAGLE, AND THE SONG, THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD.
AND THE SOPPING CAME AFTER AN EAGLE CAME AND URGED ME AFTER I
HAD BEEN TAKING PART IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND I WENT BACK
AND WROTE THIS POEM BECAUSE OF THAT.
EAGLE POEM. TO PRAY, YOU OPEN YOUR WHOLE
SELF TO SKY, TO EARTH, TO SUN, TO MOON.
TO ONE WHOLE VOICE THAT IS YOU. AND KNOW THERE IS MORE THAT YOU
CAN’T SEE, CAN’T HEAR, CAN’T KNOW ACCEPT IN MOMENTS STEADILY
GROWING. AND IN LANGUAGES THAT AREN’T
ALWAYS SOUND BUT OTHER CIRCLES OF MOTION LIKE EAGLE THAT SUNDAY
MORNING OVER SALT RIVER, CIRCLED IN BLUE SKY AND WIND SWEPT OUR
HEARTS CLEAN WITH SACRED WINGS. WE SEE YOU.
SEE OURSELVES. AND KNOW WE MUST TAKE THE UP
MOST CARE AND KINDNESS IN ALL THINGS.
BREATHE IN. KNOWING WE ARE MADE OF ALL THIS
AND BREATHE. KNOWING WE ARE TRULY BLESSED
BECAUSE WE WERE BORN AND DIE SOONER THAN A TRUE CIRCLE OF
MOTION. LIKE EAGLE, ROUNDING OUT THE
MORNING INSIDE US, WE PRAY THAT IT WILL DONE IN BEAUTY.
IN BEAUTY. BEAUTY.
[ APPLAUSE ] PERHAPS THE WORLD IS HERE.
I THANK OF JANE CORTEZ WHO I MISS HER AND
HER POETRY. WHEN I STARTED WRITING POETRY AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO, WHAT GOT ME WRITING WAS FINDING
NATIVE MOMENTS WRITING ABOUT OUR LIVES.
SO I THINK, WHO ELSE IS WRITING REAL INDIGENOUS NATIVE KIND OF
POETRY? SO I WENT TO AFRICA AND FOUND
AFRICAN POETS. THEY’RE ALSO POETRY ANCESTORS IN
THIS POEM. PERHAPS THE WORLD IS HERE.
THE WORLD BEGINS AT A KITCHEN TABLE.
NO MATTER WHAT, WE MUST EAT TO LIVE.
THE GIFTS OF EARTH ARE BROAD AND PREPARED SET ON THE TABLE SO IT
HAS BEEN SINCE CREATION AND IT WILL GO ON.
WE CHASE CHICKENS OR DOGS AWAY FROM IT.
BABIES TEETH AT THE CORNERS. THEY SCRAPE THEIR KNEES UNDER
IT. IT’S HERE CHILDREN ARE GIVEN
INSTRUCTIONS ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN.
WE MAKE MEN. WE MAKE WOMEN.
AT THIS TABLE, WE GOSSIP. WE CALL ENEMIES ON THE COAST OF
LOVERS. OUR DREAMS DRINK COFFEE WITH US
AS THEY PUT THEIR ARMS AROUND OUR CHILDREN.
THEY LAUGH AT US AT OUR POOR FALLING DOWN SHELVES AND PUT
OURSELVES BACK TOGETHER ONCE AGAIN AT THE KITCHEN TABLE.
THIS TABLE HAS BEEN A HOUSE IN THE RAIN, AN UMBRELLA IN THE
SUN. WARS BEGUN AND ENDED AT THIS
TABLE. IT’S A PLACE TO HIDE IN THE
SHADOW OF TERROR, A PLACE TO CELEBRATE THE TERRIBLE
VICTORIES. WE HAVE GIVEN BIRTH ON THIS
TABLE. AND HAVE PREPARED OUR PARENTS
FOR BURIAL HERE. AT THIS TABLE, WE SING WITH JOY,
WITH SORROW, WE PRAY SUFFERING AND REMORSE.
WE GIVE THANKS. PERHAPS THE WORLD WILL END AT
THE KITCHEN TABLE. WE ARE LAUGHING AND CRYING,
EATING, AS THE LAST SWEET BITE. [ APPLAUSE ] NOW, MOST OF YOU I MET ON THE
ROAD. I’VE KNOWN YOU.
I’VE BEEN DOING THIS — I REALIZE, I THINK IT’S BEEN
50-YEARS SINCE I STARTED WRITING POETRY.
[ APPLAUSE ] I STARTED WRITING POETRY AROUND
THE TIME MY DAUGHTER WAS BORN. SHE HAS AN OLDER BROTHER, PHIL.
BUT IT WAS AROUND THAT TIME. AND DAVID JOHNSON, MY FIRST
POETRY TEACHER, KNOWS ABOUT THAT BECAUSE WE WOULD GO — HE WAS
ALWAYS TAKING US TO DO READINGS. AND THIS IS HOW I USED TO READ. [ LAUGHTER ] AND THAT’S TRUE.
BUT THEN I GOT A HORN AND YOU CAN’T HIDE IN THE HORN.
SO I WOULD TAKE THIS AROUND THE AND I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT
DISH REMEMBER — I REMEMBER AT INDIAN SCHOOL
WE WERE SIGNING UP FOR CLASSES AND MY BEST FRIEND WAS SIGNING
UP FOR DRAMA AND I SAID, I’LL NEVER GET ON A STAGE.
[ LAUGHTER ] WORDS ARE VERY POWERFUL.
[ LAUGHTER ] WELL, THEY ARE.
YOU ARE MAKING YOUR LIFE AND YOUR ROAD WITH YOUR WORDS.
WITH YOUR PRAYERS. I THINK OF POEMS AS PRAYERS.
I ADORE JOHN COLTRANE, HE’S ONE OF MY SAXOPHONE ANCESTORS.
[ APPLAUSE ] AND HE SAID HE WAS ALWAYS
TALKING TO GOD, THE CREATOR. I THINK THAT’S WHAT WE ARTIST
DO. WE TALK AND YOU’RE
PARTICIPATING. YOU’RE BEING A PARTICIPANT WHEN
YOU CREATE AND SHARE. SO I’VE BEEN ON THE ROAD FOR
QUITE A LONG TIME. NOT CONSTANTLY, BUT ON THE ROAD.
AND I MET WONDERFUL PEOPLE. I’VE ONLY HAD TO HAVE SOMEBODY
GET OUT OF THE DRIVER’S SEAT ONCE AND TAKE OVER AND DRIVE
MYSELF IN DRIVING. BUT PEOPLE PICKING ME UP AT THE
AIRPORT. BUT SO MUCH GOES INTO ALL OF THIS.
AND, ANYWAY, THIS POEM CAME, IT’S CALLED EQUINOX.
AND IT CAME WHEN I WAS WAITING TO BE PICKED UP SOMEWHERE UP IN
THE MIDDLE OF MICHIGAN. I WAS STANDING THERE IN THE
DUSK, LISTENING TO THE BIRDS. THEY WERE ACKNOWLEDGING SUN
DOWN. AND WHAT THE EXPERT OF MY POETRY
TOLD ME, IT SAYS, OKAY, YOU LISTEN TO THESE BIRDS AROUND YOU
WATCH THEIR ACKNOWLEDGING — THEY’RE NOT ACKNOWLEDGING THE
DAY, THEY’RE LETTING THE DAY GO.
WHEN YOU LET THE DAY GO, LET ALL THE THINGS THAT BUILD-UP,
SOMETIMES WE SAY SOMETHING WE SHOULDN’T HAVE.
WE’RE ALL HUMAN BEINGS. BUT WHAT IF YOU LET ALL THOSE
ACHES AND HURTS AND BAD WORDS, LET THEM GO WITH THE SUN, LET
THEM GO, BECAUSE THE SUN IS LETTING GO AS IT LEAVES ON ITS
JOURNEY. AND SO, WE LET IT GO.
I STARTED THINKING OF ALL THE THINGS I LET GO.
I WOULD SAY MY LIST OF FAILURES. YOU MIGHT HEAR ABOUT THE THINGS
THAT HAVE HAPPENED. BUT IT’S FOLLOWED BY A LONG LIST
OF FAILURES THAT WILL WOULD GO OUT THAT DOOR.
THAT’S WHY SO MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THINGS, THE PEOPLE YOU
WANT TO LISTEN TO, THEY’RE OFTEN UP AT SUNRISE OR THEY STAY UP
ALL NIGHT PRAYS, PAINTING. YEAH, WELL THAT’S ANOTHER STORY.
[ LAUGHTER ] AND THERE’S A REASON.
THE SUN WHEN IT COMES UP OVER THAT POINT — NOW THE SCIENTIST
WILL SAY THEY CAN PROVE THIS, BUT IT’S TRUE.
IT’S A GIFT. IT COMES OVER THAT HORIZON AND
SPREADS OUT AND IT’S SAYING, YOU ARE LOVED.
YOU ARE HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE CREATED BY A CREATOR WHO LOVES TO BEHAVE.
[ LAUGHTER ] BUT IT’S A GOOD TIME TO GET UP
AND SAY THANK YOU FOR THIS NEW DAY.
FOR THIS NEW OPPORTUNITY TO START ALL OVER AGAIN.
AND TO ASK FOR BLESSINGS FOR THOSE, FOR PEOPLE.
THIS IS ABOUT STANDING THERE AT DUSK THINKING ABOUT TRYING TO
LET THINGS GO. EQUINOX.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ I MUST KEEP FROM BREAKING INTO
THE STORY BY FORCE. IF I DO, I WILL FIND A WAR CLUB
IN MY HAND. AND THE SMOKE OF GRIEF
STAGGERING TOWARDS THE SUN, YOUR NATION DEAD BESIDE YOU. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ I KEEP WALKING AWAY THOUGH IT
HAS BEEN AN ETERNITY. AND FROM EACH DROP OF BLOOD.
SPRINGS UP SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND TREES.
A MOUNTAIN OF SORROWS, OF SONGS. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ I TELL YOU THIS FROM THE DUSK
OF A SMALL CITY IN THE NORTH NOT FAR FROM THE BIRTHPLACE OF CARS
AND INDUSTRY ♪ ♪ GEESE ARE RETURNING TO MATE
AND CRO CUSS HAVE BROKEN THROUGH THE FROZEN EARTH ♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ SOON THEY WILL
COME FOR ME, AND I WILL MAKE MY STAND BEFORE THE JURY OF DESTINY
♪ ♪ YES, I WILL ANSWER IN THE
CLATTER OF THE NEW WORLD ♪ ♪ I HAVE BROKEN MY ADDICTION TO WAR
AND DESIRE ♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ APPLAUSE ] [ CHEERING ]
>>THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THIS NEXT PIECE IS A SONG FROM
— IT’S MY VERSION OF A SONG BY JIM PEPPER, MUSOCGEE CREEK AND
CAW. WE’VE INCLUDED IN IT IS ONE OF
MY POEMS, “THE FIGHT.” WE’RE ALL INVOLVED IN THE FIGHT
WITHIN US, AND AT SOME POINT, REALLY IT’S ABOUT FINDING THE
BALANCE SO MUCH IN OUR — I THINK IN OUR MUSOCGEE CULTURE,
AS REALLY ABOUT FINDING A BALANCE BECAUSE WE ARE FROM —
WE HAVE THE HOUSE OF THE PEACEMAKER, THE HOUSE OF THE WARRIORS.
IT’S ABOUT BALANCING. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪>>HEY, HEY, NO WAY.
♪ DO, DO, DO, DO ♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ I WENT BACK HOME
TO CLAIM MY SOUL. TOOK IT BACK FROM THE SUGAR MAN.
TOOK IT BACK, FROM THE MONEY MAN.
TOOK IT BACK, FROM THE DEVIL MAN.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ WITCHI TAI TO, GIMEE RAH ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ WITCHI TAI TO, GIMEE RAH WATER SPIRIT FEELEN SPRINGING
ROUND MY HEAD MAKES ME FEEL GLAD I’M NOT DEAD.
RISING SON PAINTS THE FEET OF ENEMIES AND THEY SCATTER IN THE
BURNING HILLS. EACH OF THEM, I KNOW THEM BY
NAME. FROM BEFORE I COULD SPEAK, I
USED EVERY WEAPON TO MAKE THEM RETREAT.
IF THEY RETURN EVERY NIGHT, IF I DON’T KEEP GUARD, THEY ELBOW
THROUGH OPENINGS AND FACE, TEAR THE PREMISE OF TRUST AND STAKE
THEIR SHIELDS TO THE DOUBT OF SMOKE TO CHALLENGE ME.
I GROW TIRED OF THE HEARTACHE OF EVERY SMALL AND LARGE WARPASS TO
GENERATION AND GENERATION AND GENERATION.
BUT IT IS NOT IN ME TO GIVE UP. I WAS TAUGHT TO GIVE HONOR TO
THE HOUSE OF THE WARRIORS, WHICH CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT THE HOUSE OF THE PEACEMAKERS.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ CHEERING ] [ APPLAUSE ]
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU.
THAT WAS ROBERT MULLER. [ APPLAUSE ]
HOWARD CLOUD [ APPLAUSE ]
AND LARRY MITCHELL. [ APPLAUSE ] THIS NEXT ONE IS CALLED, RABBIT IS UP TO TRICKS.
THE RABBIT IS OUR TRICKSTER FIGURE.
EVERY HUMAN CULTURE HAS TRICKSTER FIGURES.
SOME ARE COYOTE, SOME JESTERS. OFTEN YOU FIND THE TRICKSTER
FIGURES SIT CLOSEST TO THE PERSON IN POWER.
[ LAUGHTER ] UNTIL SOME INSTANCES, THEY TAKE
OVER THE SEAT OF POWER. [ APPLAUSE ]
AND THAT’S ALL I NEED TO SAY.
[ LAUGHTER ] IN A CONTEMPORARY RABBIT
TRICKSTER STORY. YOU’LL SEE WHAT I MEAN. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ IN A WORLD LONG BEFORE THIS ONE,
THERE WAS ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE UNTIL SOMEBODY GOT OUT OF LINE.
WE HEARD IT WAS RABBITS, FOOLING AROUND WITH CLAY IN THE WIND.
EVERYBODY WAS TIRED OF HIS TRICKS AND NO ONE WOULD PLAY
WITH HIM, AND HE WAS LONELY IN THIS WORLD.
SO RABBIT THOUGHT TO MAKE A PERSON.
AND WHEN HE BLEW INTO THE MOUTH OF THAT CRUDE FIGURE TO SEE WHAT
WOULD HAPPEN, THE CLAY MAN STOOD UP.
THE RABBIT SHOWS THE — SHOWS THE CLAY MAN HOW TO STEAL A
CHICKEN. THE CLAY MAN OBEYED.
HE SHOWED HIM HOW TO STEAL CORN, HE OWE BOYED.
HE SHOWED HIM HOW TO STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S WIFE AND THE CLAY
MAN OBEYED. THE RABBIT FELT IMPORTANT AND
POWERFUL AND CLAY MAN FELT IMPORTANT AND POWERFUL.
ONCE HE STARTED, HE COULDN’T STOP.
ONCE HE TOOK THE CHICKENS, HE WANTED ALL THE CHICKENS.
ONCE WE TOOK THAT CORN, HE WANTED ALL THE CORN.
AND ONCE HE TOOK THAT WIFE, HE WANTED ALL THE WIVES.
HE WAS INSAYINGSABLE. THEN HE HAD A TASTE OF GOLD.
HE WANTED ALL THE GOLD. SOON IT WAS LAND AND EVERYTHING
HE SAW. WANTING ONLY MADE HIM WANT MORE.
SOON IT WAS COUNTRIES, THEN TRADE.
THE WANTING AFFECTED THE EARTH. WE LOST TRACK OF THE PURPOSE AND
MEANING FOR LIFE. WE BEGAN TO FORGET OUR SONGS,
OUR STORIES. WE COULD NO LONGER HEAR OR SEE
OUR ANCESTORS OR TALK WITH EACH OTHER ACROSS THE KITCHEN TABLE.
FOREST WERE BEING MOVE — MOWED ALL OVER THE WORLD AND RABBIT
HAD NO PLACE LEFT TO PLAY. RABBIT’S TRICKS BACK FIRED.
RABBIT TRIED TO CALL THE CLAY MAN BACK.
WHEN THAT CLAY MAN WOULDN’T LISTEN, RABBIT REALIZED HE MADE
A CLAY MAN WITH NO EARS. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ THIS MORNING I PRAYED FOR MY
ENEMIESCH AND WHO DO I CALL MY ENEMY?
AN ENEMY MUST BE WORTHTHY OF ENGAGEMENT.
I TURN IN THE DIRECTION OF THE SUN AND KEEP WALKING.
MY HEART SET OUT THE QUESTION, NOT MY FURIOUS MIND.
THE HEART IS THE SMALLER COUSIN OF THE SUN.
IT SEES, AND KNOWS EVERYTHING.
IT HEARS THE GNASHING EVEN AS IT HEARS THE BLESSINGS.
THE DOOR TO THE MIND SHOULD ONLY OPEN FROM THE HEART.
AND THE ENEMY WHO GETS IN RISK THE DANGER OF BECOMING A FRIEND.
♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU.
THANK YOU SO MUCH. WE’RE GOING TO DO TWO MORE
PIECES. THIS ONE IS FROM MY NEW BOOK,
IT’S ONE OF MY FAVORITE POEMS THERE.
IT’S “MY MAN’S FEET”. [ LAUGHTER ]
HE’S LOOKING AT ME. OH, NO.
HIS FEET ARE BECOMING VERY FAMOUS.
I THINK OF POETRY ANCESTORS, LUCILLE CLIFTON.
[ APPLAUSE ] ABOUT THOSE HIPS OF HERS.
[ LAUGHTER ] AND, ANYWAY.
THIS IS ALSO A POEM ABOUT OUR JOURNEY AS MUSOCGEE CREEK PEOPLE
BECAUSE IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO, SEVEN GENERATIONS.
WHEN I WAS WORKING ON MY MEMOIR, I WAS THINKING ABOUT MY
GENERATION AND WE WERE ASKING THESE QUESTIONS AND COMING UP
AND HONORING ANCESTORS SAYING, WHO ARE WE BECOMING AND LOOKING
AT HISTORY? AND IT HIT ME WHEN WE ADDED IT
UP, WE WERE SEVEN GENERATIONS FROM THAT TIME OF REMOVAL.
IT HAPPENED HERE IN THIS COUNTRY LIKE IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
WITH THE CHILDREN AT THE BORDER. AND NATIVE PEOPLE, MIGRATION
PEOPLE. THESE BORDERS ARE — THE EARTH
IS — THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE IS A PERSON.
THE GLOBE IS A PERSON. SO IN THIS POEM, “MY MAN’S FEET
“IT’S ABOUT WALKING. WE WALKED FROM GEORGIA, ALABAMA
AND ALL OVER THE SOUTHEAST. AND YOU THINK WE WERE THE FOURTH
LARGEST NATION. AND I TOOK A JOB IN TENNESSEE,
UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE.
A WONDERFUL PLACE. I WAS TREATED VERY WELL THERE.
ALL PARTLY BECAUSE WE WANTED TO GO BACK.
AND EVEN THOUGH YOU GET ONE, DON’T GO BACK.
I REALIZE WHY THEY SAW DON’T GO BACK BECAUSE YOUR HEART CAN
BREAK INTO A MILLION PIECES. BECAUSE YOU GO BACK, AND WHERE
ARE OUR PEOPLE? THE MUSOCGEE PEOPLE?
WE’RE EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE WE WENT, THERE WERE
REMNANTS OF OUR VILLAGES ALL OVER THE SOUTHEAST THE AND
THAT’S PART OF THE STORY OF AMERICA.
WE’RE PART OF THE STORY. WE HAVE SO MANY STORIES, ALL OF
US TO, SHARE WITH EACH OTHER. THE ONLY WAY AMERICA WILL HEAL
IS WHEN WE ALL GET A PLACE AT THE TABLE AND ALL GET TO OUR OUR
PRAYERS, SONGS, SING TOGETHER UNTIL ALL THE STORIES HAVE A PLACE.
“MY MAN’S FEET, THEY’RE HEROIC ROOTS.
YOU CAN’T MISTAKE THEM FOR ANY OTHER SIX FOOT WALKER.
I COULD FIND THEM IN A SEA OF FEET, A PLANET OR UNIVERSE OF
FEET. KICK THE SKY AT BIRTH IN THAT
TOWN. HIS GREAT GRANDFATHER FOUND MY
MAN’S FEET LET CHILDHOOD PAST THE GRIT OF AN OIL FLUSHED BUST
TO EASTBOUND LANDS. THEY’RE MADE OF HIS MOTHER’S
SPIRITUAL CONCERN AND HIS FATHER HISTORIC AND MINDFULLY UPRIGHT.
WHAT WALKERS FROM MOUNTAIN BUILDERS STEPPED THAT LIVED TO
THE SKY MAKER PAST SPANISH STAGECOACH AND RAILROAD SNAKER.
NO OTHER FEET BUT THESE COULD BETTER THE LOYAL BEAR CHALLENGES
INTELLIGENCE AND CHILDREN PICKER UPPER.
THAT IS THE ONE WHO OWNS THESE FEET.
WHAT AN ANCHOR HIS FEET PROVIDE FOR HIS UNMATCHED ADMISSIBILITY
AND GET UP AGAIN-ALITY. I DANCED BEHIND THIS MAN, FEET
BEATS RHYTHM TOGETHER. MY MAN’S FEET ARE SURE STEPS OF
A FATHER LOOKING AFTER HIS SONS, HIS DAUGHTERS FOR WHEN HE LAUGHS
HE OPENS ALL THE DOORS OF OUR HEARTS EVEN IF HE FORGETS TO
SHUT THEM WHEN HE LEAVES. AND WHEN HE GREAVES FOR THOSE HE
LOVES, HE CARVES OUT VALLEYS TO HOLD EVERYONE’S TEARS WITH HIS
FEET. THESE FEET.
MY MAN’S WIDELY, HUMBLE, EVERY STEADY, BEAUTIFUL, BROWN FEET. [ APPLAUSE ]
WE’RE GOING TO CLOSE WITH THIS SONG.
AGAIN, THIS IS ROBERT MULLER JOINING ME HERE.
[ APPLAUSE ] KEYBOARD FROM SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO.
WHAT?>>THE ORIGINAL.
>>THE ORIGINAL. [ LAUGHTER ]
THAT’S RIGHT.
HOWARD CLOUD FROM ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO.
[ APPLAUSE ] LARRY MITCHELL, OBALEGA, ALABAMA.
[ APPLAUSE ] WHO WAS PART OF MY ONE WOMAN
SHOW. WHEN EVERYBODY ASKED WHAT HE WAS
DOING, HE SAID HE WAS PLAYING IN A ONE WOMAN SHOW.
[ LAUGHTER ] AND I WANT TO THANK YOU THE —
OH, MY GOSH. I KNOW I NEED TO GET ON WITH
THIS. THERE’S SO MANY PEOPLE, SO MANY
PEOPLE THAT CAME FROM SO FAR AWAY.
IT’S ALWAYS YOUR LOVE. THAT’S WHAT THESE POEMS ARE MADE
OUT OF IS THE LOVE AND THE CHALLENGE — WHAT WE LEARN FROM
OUR CHALLENGES THAT’S MADE UP OF LOVE.
SO THANK YOU, THANK YOU, CARLA HAYDEN, FOR ROB AND THE STAFF,
ANYA, ANN, JENNIFER FORCE HAS BEEN HELPING.
SO MANY PEOPLE. A BUNCH OF STUDENTS. [ CHEERING ]
YEAH. THE SUPPORT, YOU KNOW.
AND IT’S IMPORTANT WE PASS THIS ON BECAUSE WE ALL — WE’RE ALL
HERE TO SERVE. I WAS RELUCTANT TO SERVE POETRY,
BUT IT’S BEEN THE MOST — IT’S BLESSED ME BEYOND WORDS.
WE’LL END THIS ONE, “BLESS THISLAND LAND.”
THANK YOU. I CAN’T CRY BECAUSE ALL MY
MAKEUP WILL RUN. [ LAUGHTER ]
♪ LAST DANCES OF THE NIGHT IS ALMOST OVER ♪ ♪ ONE LAST ROUND
UNDER THE STARRY SKY ♪ ♪ WE’RE ALL GOING HOME SOME HOW, SOMEWAY
WHEN IT’S OVER ♪ ♪ HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY ♪ ♪ YOU FOUND LOVE IN THE CIRCLE,
THEN HOLD ON TO IT NOT TOO TIGHT ♪ ♪ IF YOU HAVE TO LET LOVE GO
THEN LET IT GO, KEEP ON DANCING ♪ ♪ I DON’T CARE
IF YOU WERE MARRIED 16 TIMES, I’LL GET YOU YET ♪ ♪ GOING HOME,
GOING HOME ♪ ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ ♪ I’M FROM
OKLAHOMA GOT NO ONE TO CALL MINE ♪ ♪ A LOT TO BRING, A LOT TO
BRING SFOET ♪ EVERYBODY WANTS A LOT, LOT TO BRING ♪ ♪ WHEN THE DANCE IS OVER,
SWEETHEART, TAKE ME HOME ♪ ♪ FIRST, WE GOT TO PICK UP MY AUNT
Y AND UNCLE AND GRANDMA, AND ALL THE KIDS ♪ ♪ GOING HOME, GOING
HOME ♪ ♪ BLESS THIS LAND FROM THE TOP
OF ITS HEAD TO THE BOTTOM OF ITS FEET.
FROM THE OLD WHITE HEAD TO THE BROWN FEET AT TROPICAL RAIN.
BLESS THE EYES OF THIS LAND FOR THEY WITNESS CRUELTY AND
KINDNESS IN THIS LAND FROM SUNRISE LIGHT BRIGHT TO FALLING
DOWN ON YOUR KNEES NIGHT. BLESS THE EARS OF THIS LAND FOR
THEY HEAR CRIES OF HEARTBREAK AND SHOUTS OF CELEBRATION IN
THIS LAND. ONCE HE HEARD NO GUNSHOT ON
THESE LANDS. TREES AND STONES CAN STILL BE
HEARD SINGING, BLESS THE MOUTH LIPS AND SPEECH OF THIS LAND FOR
THE LAND IS A SPEAKER, A SINGER, A KEEPER OF ALL THAT HAPPENS HERE ON THIS LAND.
LUMINOUS FOREST, OCEANS AND ROCK CLIFFS SOLD FOR THE TRASH WHITE
OR GOLD, URANIUM OR OIL BUST RUSH.
IF THERE ARE NEW STORIES TO BE MADE, LITTLE ONES COMING UP OVER
THE HORIZON. BLESS THE ARMS AND HANDS OF THIS
LAND FOR THEY REMAKE AND RESTORE BEAUTY IN THIS LAND.
WE ARE HELD IN THE CIRCLE AROUND THESE LANDS BY SONG AND REMINDED
BY THE KNOWERS THAT NO ONE IS OVER THE OTHER.
NO HUMAN ABOVE THE BIRD, INSECT OR GRASS.
BLESS THE HEARD OF THIS LAND ON ITS KNEES PLANTING FOOD BENEATH
THE ETERNAL CIRCLE OF BREATHING, SWIMMING AND WALKING THIS LAND.
THE HEART IS A POETRY MAKER. THERE IS ONE HEART, SAID THE
POETRY MAKER. ONE BODY, AND ALL POEMS MAKE ONE
POEM. WE DO NOT USE TO MAKE WAR —
WARDS TO MAKE WAR ON THIS LAND TO BRING PAIN.
BLESS THE FEMALENESS, AND MAILNESS ON THIS LAND FOR EACH
HOST THE POWER OF BECOMING. ALL THE BIRDS MADE A BIRDLY
RACQUET FROM INDIGO SKY HOLES. BLESS THE TWO FEET AND HANDS
WALK BESIDE THE PROFANE. THE WORDS WALK THE BACKBONE,
MASSAGING THE TISSUE AROUND THE CORD OF LIFE, WHICH IS THE TREE
OF LIFE, UPON IN THIS LAND STANDS.
POLICE THE — BLESS THE DESTRUCTION OF THIS LAND.
NEW CHUTES WILL ARRIVE FROM FIRE, EARTHQUAKES, FIERCE WINDS
TO MAKE NEW, THIS LAND. WE ARE LAND ON TURTLES BACK WHEN
THE WEIGHT OF GREED OVER TURNS US, WHO WILL WE CALL?
THE UPRIGHT SONG OF THIS LAND. BLESS THE CREATION OF NEW LAND
FOR OUT OF CHAOS, WE WILL BE EXCEL COMPELLED TO REMEMBER TO
BLESS THIS LAND. THE SMALLEST ONE REMEMBERED.
THE MOST HUMBLE ONE. THE ONE WHOSE VOICE YOU HAVE TO
LEAN IN 1,000 WORDS TO HEAR. WE WILL BEGIN THERE.
BLESS US, THESE LANDS WE REMEMBER.
THESE LANDS AREN’T OUR LANDS, THEY’RE NOT OUR LANDS.
WE ARE THE LAND. AND THE BLESSING BEGAN A
GRACEFUL MOVING THROUGH THE GRASSES OF TIME FROM THE
BEGINNING TO THE CIRCLING AROUND PLACE OF TIME.
ALWAYS MOVING, ALWAYS. ♪ [ MUSIC ] ♪♪ [ SINGING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE ] [ APPLAUSE ]
[ CHEERING ]>>ALL RIGHT.
JUST A FEW WORDS BEFORE WE LET YOU GO.
I’M ROB CASPER, HEAD OF THE POETRY AND LITERATURE CENTER. [ APPLAUSE ]
AND WE WOULD LOVE FOR YOU TO FILL OUT YOUR SURVEYS WHICH YOU
RECEIVED AS YOU WALKED IN. THEY’RE VERY USEFUL FOR US.
ALSO, I WANT TO REMIND YOU AT THE BOOK SIGNING THAT JOY WILL
SIGN A MAXIMUM OF TWO BOOKS PER PERSON AND SHE WILL NOT BE ABLE
TO WRITE DEDICATIONS OR PERSONALIZED ENCRYPTIONS
OTHERWISE, SHE WOULD BE HERE ALL NIGHT.
AND SHE SPENT HER TIME WITH US IN THE MOST POWERFUL WAY.
FINALLY, I WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THIS EVENT IS PART OF THE
LIBRARY’S NEW NATIONAL BACK FESTIVAL PRESENTS SERIES.
THE NEXT EVENT TAKES PLACE HERE ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH, WITH
AWARD WINNER WRITER, DANDICOT.
CHECK OUT MORE EVENTS AT LOC .GOV.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE, AND HAVE A GOOD NIGHT. [ APPLAUSE ]

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