Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Joy Harjo: 'She Had Some Horses'

Joy Harjo (photo by Joy Harjo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Mvskoke (Creek) Nation poet Joy Harjo recently won the Wallace Stevens Award, which is awarded by the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors for 'outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry'. I was pleased when I saw this news, because the famous poem 'She Had Some Horses' had made a great impression on me from the moment I read it.

I recommend the Poetry Foundation article on Joy Harjo, and the other fine poems by her that can be found there. Harjo writes out of a deep source of Native American identity, but 'She Had Some Horses' is also about female identity and it may have come to mind this week because of International Women's Day.

I am painfully aware that (as a woman and a writer) I read and write about a lot more male poets than female poets, and I would quite like to remedy that (although at the same time, I don't feel apologetic about who I do or don't read...) The fact that I'm aware of it indicates that I know there is a lack there. And 'She Had Some Horses' reminds me beautifully and painfully how disparate, but formative and profound, all the experiences and relationships are that are part of being a woman. It is one of those poems for which I would like to thank the poet.


  1. She's a wonderful poet. "She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak." I'd like to thank her too!

    1. It's a really strong poem that stays with you. I've read a few of her other poems and they were great too, so I may seek out one of her books.