Selected as one of Oprah Winfrey's "Books That Help Me Through"
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology.
This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize–winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.
Joy Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is the author of nine poetry collections and two memoirs, most recently Poet Warrior. The recipient of the 2023 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2017 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
LeAnne Howe is the author, most recently, of Savage Conversations. She teaches at the University of Georgia – Athens.
Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of Bright Raft in the Afterweather. She lives in California.
This anthology is revelatory and stunning.… It shows the remarkable strength and diversity of Native poetry, which vitalizes all of American poetry. It is essential reading.
— Arthur Sze, National Book Award–winning author of Sight Lines