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Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  93 reviews
In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues, and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lo ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 24th 2017 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 28th 2015)
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4.31  · 
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 ·  545 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Earlier this year I read Joy Harjo's debut Women Who Fell From the Sky: Poems where she first introduced herself as a leading Native American voice. Since its publication, Harjo has emerged as a critically acclaimed poet and musician, garnering multiple awards, and promoting Native American rights. In her latest collection, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, Harjo speaks of Natives' relationship with the land and how indigenous groups can preserve their culture moving forward.

Harjo begins her
Craig Werner
Beautiful, jazz-inflected, wise poetry. As good a place as any to start with Harjo, up there with In Mad Love and War. Check out "We Were There When Jazz Was Invented" for Harjo's smart triangulation of diverse traditions. This quote--one of the interlinears she uses to structure the collection--gives a sense of the arc:

"Those who could see into the future predicted the storm long before the first settler stepped on the shores of the Mvskoke story What was known in both worlds broke. In jazz, a
Bogi Takács
Great, resonant - the title poem was especially powerful. Some of the poems didn't quite work for me, but most of them did; I'm glad I picked up this collection. She has a strong and unapologetic voice speaking many truths, and she does not shy away either from politics or spirituality.

It made me feel like translating several of her poems to Hungarian - I couldn't find anything already extant, only a blog post mentioning that her work should be translated. I agree with that.

Also yay for bilingua
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book snuck up on me. I forgot how a book of poems can sneak up on you. Perhaps my reading resolution for this year will be to seek out more entire books of poetry.
I loved this. It's an amazing drawing on multiple traditions in literature and music to form a kind of songbook collection with little moments in between, stories and fragments. Fiona (aged 10) and I read much of it together on the couch--it felt like steps and songs toward healing--felt the power of the blues. And there's a great poem for a daughter/grandaughter in there, too. Grateful to Craig Werner for the recommendation.
Linda Brunner
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems a pitiful thing to review words like these that spark like flint on steel. Again and again.

So many lines and phrases sips of the clearest and coldest of revitalizing and refreshing spring water.
Bringing me back to vitality, consciousness and providing camaraderie in a world that runs on madness.

I am beyond grateful.
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic collection. Harjo has short one or two sentence introductions to the poems that are often little poems in themselves. There is a heavy jazz and musical influence and many of the poems are called songs or have singing in them. I've never been especially interested in reading Harjo's memoir but after this collection it is definitely on my list!
Edgar Trevizo
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gorgeous.
James Murphy
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harjo, we're told is of Creek heritage, the Amerind peoples originally from the southeast U. S. who were shifted into the Indian Territories almost 200 years ago. She feels those sensibilities keenly. All the poems here give consideration to that point of view. Some of it's anger, some of it merely paying obeisance to where she comes from. She sang some of these poems when I saw her read from the book. Some of the poems have the word song in the title, making it clear music is a part of the effe ...more
Joshua Springs
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc
So it took me a little while to get out of the mindset of looking for Christian themes in poetry and to just look at the poetry and enjoy it. This is the first book of poetry I have read straight through, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It's not my favorite, but still these poems were fantastic.
F. Rzicznek
"The land is a being who remembers everything." I'm going to carry that line with me for a long, long while.
So many of these poems I read over and over, savoring the beauty and rightness of Harjo's words. I want these written on my heart so it can beat with truth, humility, and gratitude, always.
Paul Womack
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am not much of a reader of poetry, but this book is a gem of reflection, insight, hope, wisdom, and promise. I will read more of her work.
Avery Stempel
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a powerful collection. Every poem packed a punch. I wanted to rip my heart out at least three times, and actually cried twice. Such intimately moving works. Highly recommend you pick this up and get cozy with it.
Sophfronia Scott
Poems of hope and rage, of blood and healing, of history and violence. And music, lots of music. Think of jazz riff on saxophone, syncopated like prayer drums, then rising in a mournful wail that gives birth to tears and the blues. Wholly fierce and absorbing. Thank you Joy Harjo.
M. Gaffney
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am spellbound by these poems.
Abigail Chicoine
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
When I woke up from a forty-year sleep, it was by a song. I could hear the drums in the village. I felt the sweat of ancestors in each palm. The singers were singing the world into place, even as it continued to fall apart. They were making songs to turn hatred into love.

Absolutely beautiful poetry. Picked this small book up at a local bookstore a few nights ago on a whim and am so glad I did.

Simply put, Joy brings together the art of music and love and leaves the reader with passages and lesso
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
In September 2011, I sat alone in a crowded theater in Taos, NM, watching Joy Harjo perform--poetry, music, story. Aside from the indelible picture I have carried in my mind of her since that day, I also carried one of her stories. I can't count the number of people I have told about it. You Can Change the Story, My Spirit Said to Me as I Sat Near the Sea is that story and I had no idea it was in this book until I read through the first 99 pages and came upon it last night. And then I reached pa ...more
World Literature Today
"This is not merely a book of poetry. These are instructions for the soul, a song to lead the reader home. With Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, the first lady of American Indian poetry arrives. In this volume, Joy Harjo reaches her full maturity as a poet and as a human being, a teacher for us all. Harjo’s form, as we have come to expect, is grounded more in indigenous structures than in those of the Western canon. Divided into four sections for the four sacred directions of American Indian ...more
Reading Joy Harjo's poetry is like being in the presence of the great Chanunpa pipe...only the truth is permitted. No political correctness. No sugar-coating or éclair filling. Pure, raw, unadulterated and natural truth. No artificial preservatives added. Like all real poets she stands at the nexus of the past, present and future. Her heart, thoughts and language echo the feelings and longings of her native people. She speaks not only for the Mvskoke/Creek, but also for the Lakota, Cheyenne, Com ...more
Tracy E.
Jun 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"This is the kitchen table university. Everything you need to know is here." The most cerebral and abstract of Harjo's poetry I've read yet, but her other style of painting with words is still here. The personal vs. the worldly is still there. There's a circular movement between lyrical, cerebral, painted poetry, inner thoughts, between the heart and the mind.
Patti K
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This long awaited new volume of poems from Harjo does not disappoint.
She again reclaims Native history, ancestors, and spirituality in lyrical and
vivid work. There are songs here as well as prose poem commentaries between
poems. It is refreshing to read. Especially enjoyable are "It's Raining in
Honolulu", Praise the Rain, and the last poem, "Sunrise."
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I lay my body down in another city, another hotel room. Once Louis Armstrong and his band stayed here. Later the hotel fell to trash. New money resurrected it. Under the red moon of justice, I dream with the king of jazz.”
― Joy Harjo, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems
Nancy Eister
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the clarity, cadence , simplicity of Joy Harjo's poetry here. This is a way to sing praise to, or begin to understand, how the history of a people is living right now in the present. Full of sorrow, rage, beauty, humor and lots and lots of music. Thank you Joy Harjo.
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Folklore, history, personal journeys and modern times are entwined in this absorbing work by a Native American poet. Notable Book List Winner 2016 for Poetry. For a complete list of winners, please visit
So good - especially "For a Girl Becoming."
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2015, _transfer, poetry
Not as strong as her earlier works. But it could also be my changing tastes.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
EDIT: This book got me into poetry. :)

I'm not really a fan of poetry, but these were just beautiful.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Powerful, soulful, life words. Harjo's poems are such a gift.
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Bio Joy Harjo
Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. She has released four award-winning CD's of original music and won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year. She performs nationally and internationally solo and with her band, The Arrow Dynamics. She has appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, in venues in every major U.S. city and
“A panther poised in the cypress tree about to jump is a
panther poised in a cypress tree about to jump.

The panther is a poem of fire green eyes and a heart charged
by four winds of four directions.

The panther hears everything in the dark: the unspoken
tears of a few hundred human years, storms that will break
what has broken his world, a bluebird swaying on a branch a
few miles away.

He hears the death song of his approaching prey:

I will always love you, sunrise.
I belong to the black cat with fire green eyes.
There, in the cypress tree near the morning star.
“Bless the poets, the workers for justice, the dancers of ceremony, the singers of heartache, the visionaries, all makers and carriers of fresh meaning—We will all make it through, despite politics and wars, despite failures and misunderstandings. There is only love.” 1 likes
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