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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.

—Jen­nifer Levin

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