The Role of Memory and Language in Transformation: Crucial Issues in American Indigenous Poetry

Bayu Kristianto,


Abstract

The integration of the personal and the political has been an engaging topic in analyses of literary texts by authors whose works are known for their political content and activism, as well as an emphasis on social justice. Literary audiences in the United States have been familiar with Joy Harjo and John Trudell, two well-known contemporary Indigenous poets, who have voiced out the concerns of Indigenous people in the face of colonization and injustice happening in their homeland. Within the fusion of the personal and the political, as well as the mythical, the idea of transformation is paramount for Indigenous authors since to move from the state of being colonized to one of being decolonized, transformation is undoubtedly crucial. This paper focuses on the role of memory and the power of language in the process of transformation in the three poems by Joy Harjo and John Trudell. The analysis uses a qualitative methodology in the form of a close reading of literary texts to uncover the interconnectedness of memory and language in transformation. I argue that Native poets experience personal transformation that is critically influenced by the role of ancestral memory and social and historical consciousness in the broader context of Indigenous people’s struggle and resistance, as well as the power of language to see reality differently and affect its change. The analysis is intended to show to what extent the concepts of memory and language are critical in the process of decolonization and the manners in which these texts can be empowering for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences in response to forms of injustice through the integration of the personal, the political, and the mythical.


Save to Mendeley



Keywords

transformation, memory, language, indigenous, colonization

Full Text:

PDF

References

Anténe, P. (2012). Poems as stories and memories: Joy Harjo’s narrative poetry. The rainbow of American Poetry. Proceedings of the 18th International Colloquium of American Studies, October 25–27, pp. 121-135. Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic.

Bryson, J. S. (2005). Finding the way back: Joy Harjo. The west side of any mountain: Place space and ecopoetry. Iowa City: Iowa University Press.

Gould, J. M. (2000). I gave you back: Memory, language, and transformation in Joy Harjo’s poetry (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Goodman, J. (1994). Politics and the personal lyric in the poetry of Joy Harjo and C.D. Wright. MELUS, 19(2), 35-56.

Griggs, D. (Director) (1996). Joy Harjo. Performing Joy Harjo and Greg Sarris. Lannan Literary Voice.

Harjo, J. (2002). I give you back. How we became human: New and selected poems: 1975-2001. New York: Norton.

Harjo, J. & Winder, T. (2011). Triplopia. Becoming the thing itself: Interview with Triplopia. Soul talk, soul language: Conversations with Joy Harjo. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.

Haseltine, P. (2006). Becoming bear in Momaday and Harjo. Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studie,s 32(1), 81-106.

Igliori, P. (1994). Stickman: John Trudell: Poems, lyrics, talks, a conversation. New York: Inanout Press.

Kosolov, J. (2003). Poetries of transformation: Joy Harjo and Li-Young Lee. Studies in American Indian Literature, 2(15), 39-57.

Landrum, C. L. (2012). Kicking bear, John Trudell, and Anthony Kiedis (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers): ‘Show Indians’ and pop-cultural colonialism. The American Indian Quarterly, 36(2), 182-214.

Lang, N. (1993). ’Twin gods bending over’: Joy Harjo and poetic memory. MELUS 18(3), 41-49.

Lee, K. (2007) .Heartspeak from the spirit: Songs of John Trudell, Keith Secola, and Robbie Robertson. Studies in American Indian Literature, 19(3), 89-114.

Momaday, N.S. (1998). The man made of words. The man made of words: Essays, stories, passages. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Moyers, B. (1995). The language of life: A festival of poets. New York: Doubleday.

Nevins, B. (2011). Writing, constructing the next world: Interview with Bill Nevins. Soul talk, soul language: Conversations with Joy Harjo. Joy Harjo and Tanaya Winder. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press.

Pettit, R. (1998). Joy Harjo. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press.

Trudell, J. (2008). Iktomi. Lines from a mined mind: The words of John Trudell. Colorado: Golden.

Winn, T. (2013). Ecofeminism and cultural memory in Joy Harjo’s poetry: Writing in the enemy’s language. Discovery 1(1). Retrieved from http://www.peninsulacollegepress.org/uploads/2/2/4/9/22492008/item_no_001_winn.pdf.


DOI: https://doi.org/10.24167/celt.v19i1.2108

Article Metrics

Abstract viewed : 120 times
PDF files downloaded : 4 times



Copyright (c) 2019 Celt: A Journal of Culture, English Language Teaching & Literature



| pISSN (print): 1412-3320 | eISSN (online): 2502-4914 | web
analytics View My Stats