“Making Songs of the Marrow”: Joy Harjo’s Music and Traditional Knowledge

  • Laura Castor University of Tromsø


Joy Harjo is a multi-media artist of Mvskoke background whose poetry, song, and instrumentals break with conventional boundaries of form. For Harjo, melding poetry and music allows her to contribute to processes of psychological healing from collective trauma, a reality in Native American experience since European contact. Her song “Equinox” provides a rich opportunity for exploring the various levels at which she interweaves allusions to contested historical events and traditional knowledge with poetic imagery. In “Equinox,” Harjo’s combined poetry and music encourage larger processes of cultural healing that, at the same time, reinforce the need for continued advocacy.