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Woman to Woman

October 7, 2009

Muskogee Creek photographer, writer, and artist-extraordinaire, Durango Mendoza captured this “woman to woman” moment at Joy Harjo’s recent craft lecture at the University of Illinois.  And for me, this photo says it all: we are here to nurture the hearts and minds of those around us, as women, teachers, mothers, and grandmothers.  Pictured left, Angie Naquayouma, Ho-Chunk/Hopi, joyis a 2009 graduate of the University of Illinois.  She is now part of the growing staff at the Native American House on the Illinois campus.

In her craft lecture, Joy talked about the necessity of young writers learning how to be true to their own voice.  “Be yourself,” she told the audience of approximately sixty undergraduate students, MFA candidates, and Illinois faculty.  Several of my creative writing students said they connected very strongly with what Harjo was saying. They say they often feel compelled to write for their communities, or represent their ethnicities/identities, rather than be true to the stories rolling around inside them.  I couldn’t agree more with Joy’s central thesis.  We write for ourselves, and through that longing to understand a particular thing, we create art.

For more chances to hear Joy Harjo while’s she at Illinois, and pick up a copy f her new book, For a Girl Becoming, please see the American Indian Studies website and click on the calendar of events.

Joy Harjo is American Indian Studies artist in residence for 2009-10.  She will be on campus until October 16, 2009, and her presence here has been a gift to all of us.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 10:42 pm

    I love your “woman to woman” moment. Finding Joy on your blog makes me long for the night when we all posed for old-time photos in Deadwood, instead of going to hear Annie Proulx read. John and I were in Deadwood a few weeks ago and crossed paths with Susan Powers. What a wonderful woman she is too! I had many “woman to woman” moments on the river trip the end of August and thought of you then, as well, wishing you’d been along.

  2. October 25, 2009 3:12 pm

    tks Page. The picture of us from that night in Deadwood those years ago, hangs on a wall in my office in American Indian Studies. I send hugs, and well wishes to you.

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