“I often painted or drew through the night, when most of the world slept and it was easier to walk through the membrane between life and death to bring back memory. I painted to the music of silence. It was here I could hear everything.” Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo’s memoir, Crazy Brave, is one wickedly beautiful piece of intensely personal poetic writing. This is not a fact crammed autobiography tossing up gossip and shallow dirt galore. This is a sharing of a poetic journey of becoming self in this strange world we inhabit. Harjo’s word craft strives to bridge the differences of perception and perceiving that often keep people unaware of their connections to each other and the universe. This is a memoir that offers a sense of what it means to be Joy as she unfolds to embrace her creative gifts. Don’t read this book expecting to learn all about Joy’s journey into Jazz or how she feels playing on the international stage as a musician-poet. Read this book as an opening act to learning about one woman’s love for art and music as life. This is a book about spirit and love and suffering along a path that knows no limits or boundaries between time, space or place. Certain experiences and people are shared as part of her journey as Joy contemplates past, present and future life. Dealings with lovers, friends and family are offered as part of the pathway to learning to speak and sing. It’s about making choices and listening with trust to the knowing even when it speaks ever so softly. It’s about making a commitment to the poetic spirit in the fullest sense of living.
“To imagine the spirit of poetry is much like imagining the shape and size of the knowing. It is a kind of resurrection light: it is the tall ancestor spirit who has been with me since the beginning, or a bear or a hummingbird. It is a hundred horses running the land in a soft mist, or it is a woman undressing for her beloved in firelight. It is none of these things. It is more than everything” (JH p. 164).
Like many poems Crazy Brave can be read in one sitting yet it will stay with you long after the last page. It may well haunt your dreams and intrude upon your waking hours. The poetic journey is one without beginning or end. It’s an ongoing adventure. A work in perpetual progress. This is a memoir that reveals the poetic power of prose that sings a life song.