Acclaimed Poet Joy Harjo Named Chair of Excellence in Creative Writing

Joy Harjo, an award-winning poet, musician, and author whose works reflect her Muscogee Creek tribal heritage, will be coming to UT in the fall of 2016 as the new Chair of Excellence in Creative Writing.

Joy Harjo, an award-winning poet, musician, and author whose works reflect her Muscogee Creek tribal heritage, has been named the new Chair of Excellence in Creative Writing. The twelfth faculty member to be honored with a Chair of Excellence, Harjo will begin work in Fall 2016.

Joy Harjo, an award-winning poet, musician, and author whose works reflect her Muscogee Creek tribal heritage, has been named the new Chair of Excellence in Creative Writing. The twelfth faculty member to be honored with a Chair of Excellence, Harjo will begin work in Fall 2016.

Harjo will be the twelfth faculty member to be honored with a Chair of Excellence at UT. This title is reserved for scholars and writers of the highest distinction.

Harjo most recently was on the faculty of the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo began writing poetry when she was a college student in the Southwest in the 1970s to give a voice to the Native America rights movement. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Known primarily as a poet, Harjo plays saxophone with her band, the Arrow Dynamics, performs one-woman shows, edits literary journals, and writes screenplays.

Her books of poetry include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015); How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems (2002); A Map to the Next World: Poems (2000), which won PEN Open Book Award; The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. She has also written a memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction.

She has released five award-winning music CDs and in 2009 won a Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year for Winding Through the Milky Way.

Harjo recently won the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award for her poetry from the Academy of American Poets, and The New York Times recently featured her poem Fall Song.

Harjo’s many awards include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, a Rasmussen US Artists Fellowship, the William C. Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)