Poet Joy Harjo, recipient of the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award; Lesley Poling-Kempes reads from Ladies of the Canyons
Ladies of letters
Joy Harjo (Muscogee/Creek) receiv edt h e20 15 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, considered among the highest honors for poetry int he United States and definitely one of the most lucrative in a field not known for making its practitioners rich. The $100,000 prize is named for Stevens, a Pulitzer Prizewinning modernist who spent much of his career as an executive for Hartford Insurance ,w riting poems behind h isc losed office door. Past winners include Louise Glück, Galway Kinnell, and Adrienne Rich; H arjo ,wh o was born in Tulsa, ist he first Native poet to w int h ea ward. Her work fuses the natura lw orld, politics, feminism, and other forms of social connection with the history and culture of Native people. Among h er b oo k s of poetry are She Had Some Horses ( W.W. N orton, 1983), In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), The Woman Who Fell from the Sky (W.W. Norton, 1996), and a new volume, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (W.W. Norton, 2015). Harjo has written children’s literature and is al sot he author of a memoir, Crazy Brave (W.W. Norton, 2012). Music has been another creative outlet for Harjo: A singer and saxophonist, she has recorded and performed with the band Poetic Justice and has released several spokenword albums. Her oth era wards inclu det he William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Harjo attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and receiv eda bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico before earning a master of fine arts from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1978 .S he is professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
More famou s and s lightly dangerous women are celebrated in Lesley Poling-Kempes’ Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest, from which she reads on Thursday ,O ct. 1, at 6 p.m. at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St. ,5 05-988-4226). Published b yt he University of Arizona Press, Ladies of the Canyons isa nonfiction account of many of th ea vant-garde, artistic women — including Mabel Dodge Luhan, Mary Austin, and Willa Cather —wh of led lives of conventiona lw ealth and comfort to rediscover themselves in New Mexico int he first decades of the twentieth century.