November 22, 2021 9:31 AM EST

The new memoir from three-term U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, the first Native American to serve in that role, is an exquisite and lyrical look into the evolution of her artistry. In Poet Warrior, Harjo mines her past and the stories that shaped her as a writer. Her mother looms large over the memoir—her presence and absence in Harjo’s life are pronounced throughout as Harjo wrestles with the memories of her volatile father and stepfather. Though she’s at times reflecting on moments of pain, Harjo is also hopeful, her writing brimming with compassion and love for the poets, students and family members who helped her understand her necessary voice. With pages full of prose, poetry and song, Poet Warrior is an elegantly woven self-portrait of an artist.

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