Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years

Norton. Nov. 2022. 160p. ISBN 9781324036487. $25. POETRY
A former three-time U.S. Poet Laureate, Harjo celebrates her 50th year as a writer by gathering 50 of her best poems in this career-spanning volume. Powerful, personal, and deeply spiritual, these are the poems of a prophet, and as with the words of the greatest prophets, they transcend both category and culture, speaking with an awe-inspiring authority as they draw on Harjo’s heritage as a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. “i want to go back / to New Mexico// it is the only way i know how to breathe” says the opening poem, while the closing poem observes “We will find each other again in a timeless weave of breathing.” Here are poems that have inspired readers and poets to see the world anew and listen to the unheard stories all around them. As a sampling of her work, this slender volume is a great companion to 2002’s How We Became Human. Like that volume, it ends with a lengthy section of notes about the inspiration and creation of each poem that sheds light on Harjo’s career, her passions, and the people she loves, allowing readers to see even favorite and familiar poems with new eyes.
VERDICT Harjo is a national treasure, perhaps even a national resource, and this important book is an essential addition to contemporary poetry collections everywhere.
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