Poet Harjo told stories and shared insight on writing and stories

MASSILLON – Joy Harjo sees the world and its people, places and things as a giant “story field.”

From trees in your backyard, to your own families and towns, stories of all of them are interwoven in endless layers. And every story has a place, a purpose — the good, the bad and the ugly.

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“Some stories are difficult to look at, because it makes us look at the worst part of ourselves,” she told a crowd of about 175 people, who came to the Massillon Museum on Thursday night to hear a keynote address for the Big Read from Harjo, the incumbent US poet laureate.

Difficult stories such as the chaos of war. Challenging narratives about subjects such as abortion. Difficult reckonings, such as the plight of her own southeastern US Native American ancestors, pushed from their lands of her, to the west, by the Indian Relocation Act of 1830.

Some of Harjo’s poetry readings

The 70-year-old Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, a self-governed tribe near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dressed in black pants and a black shirt, both the same color as her long, straight hair, she dazzled her captive audience with stories, song and readings of her own poems.

Most were from her collection in the book “An American Sunrise,” published in 2019, and inspired by Harjo’s visit to the southeastern US

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