“Poetry is the art that is closest to music, standing between music and narrative orality (which can be speechmaking, sermon, or theater). Poetry is the voice of what can’t be spoken, the mode of truth-telling when meaning needs to rise above or skim below everyday language in shapes not discernible by the ordinary mind. It trumps the rhetoric of politicians. Poetry is prophetic by nature and not bound by time. Because of these qualities, poetry carries grief, heartache, ecstasy, celebration, despair, or searing truth more directly than any other literary art form. It is ceremonial in nature. Poetry is a tool for disruption and creation and is necessary for generations of humans to know who they are and who they are becoming in the wave map of history. Without poetry, we lose our way.”
About the Artist
Joy Harjo, a member of the Academy, is a performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her second term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States.
“Perhaps the World Ends Here” from The Woman Who Fell from the Sky by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 1994 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Commission on the Arts
The Commission - drawing on the expertise of its members who are artists, scholars, activists, and leaders, as well as the input of people across the country who participated in listening sessions - dedicated itself to recognizing and supporting the essential role of the arts and artists in American life.