Joy Harjo Awarded the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo. Photo: Karen Kuehn.

May 10, 2017 - 10:15am

The Poetry Foundation has announced that Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna Joy Harjo is the winner of the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Presented annually to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant singular recognition, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given to American poets. 

Poetry magazine editor Don Share wrote, in his citation, that Joy Harjo's work "pushes vigorously back against forgetfulness, injustice, and negligence at every level of contemporary life. Her work moves us because it is in the continual motion of bringing forward, with grace but also acuity, our collective story, always in progress.”

Consistently praised for the depth and thematic concerns in her writings, Harjo has emerged as a major figure in contemporary American poetry. Her work draws on Native American storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing.

Harjo’s recent publications include the children and young adult’s book, For a Girl Becoming (2009), the prose and essay collection, Soul Talk, Song Language (2011), the memoir, Crazy Brave (2012), and the poetry collection, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), which was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Harjo’s many honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, the Josephine Miles Poetry Award, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the American Indian Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award.

For more information:

Joy Harjo Awarded 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

"Beyond Language: Joy Harjo on writing her life in poetry." Interview with Layli Long Soldier.