United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo
The first Native American to become the United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo explores what is at the heart of her poetry.
Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation
...and Viewers Like You
THIS TIME, ON COLORES!
THE FIRST NATIVE AMERICAN TO BECOME THE UNITED
STATES POET LAUREATE, JOY HARJO EXPLORES WHAT IS AT
THE HEART OF HER POETRY.
THE FESTIVAL" CELEBRATES THE
IMPACT AND HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF BLACK
CLASSICAL COMPOSERS AND PERFORMERS.
AT KADIMA CREATIVE EXPRESSIONS, MUSIC HELPS
PEOPLE FACE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES.
WITH SPECIAL EFFECTS MAKE-UP, RUDY CAMPOS,
TRANSFORMS THE REAL INTO THE FANTASTIC.
IT'S ALL AHEAD ON COLORES!
IMAGINATION IN CULTURAL MEMORY.
>>Joy Harjo: I've had many teachers in my life
showing me the way.
Showing me the way that yes, it is possible to
embrace what you are, who you are.
Every person is part of a generation and every
generation is carrying a story forward.
Poetry is an art of sound but every art you know,
you have to depend on listening, listening
beyond what's most, what's most obvious.
>>Megan Kamerick: Where does poetry come from?
Imagination or memory?
That's an interesting question to be asked right off.
That's a huge question.
I think that's a question we're always asking, you know.
It's like where do humans come from?
Why are we here, and what does it mean?
And poetry is really part of the questioning.
It's funny how poetry is.
I don't always know what I'm doing.
I think any artist will tell you that.
Because you're an artist.
Because you're exploring something unknown with
known tools and but it's interesting how this poem,
this rabbit figure has come to light in recent times.
Rabbit is up to tricks.
In a world long before this one, there was enough
for everyone, until somebody got out of line.
We heard it was rabbit fooling around with clay in the wind.
Everybody was tired of his tricks and no one would
play with him and he was lonely in this world.
So rabbit thought to make a person and when he blew
into the mouth of that crude figure to see what
would happen the clay man stood up.
Rabbit showed the clay man how to steal the chicken.
The clay man obeyed.
Then he showed him how to steal corn.
The clay man obeyed.
Then he showed him how to steal someone else's wife
and that clay man obeyed.
Rabbit felt important and powerful and rabbit felt
important and powerful and clay man felt important and
powerful and once that clay man started, he could not stop.
Once he took that chicken, he wanted all the chickens.
Once he took that corn, he wanted all the corn, and
once he took that wife, well, he wanted all the wives.
He was insatiable.
Then, he had a taste of gold.
He wanted all the gold.
Then it was land or anything else he saw his
wanting only made him want more.
Soon it was country, then it was trade.
The wanting infected the earth.
We lost track of the purpose and meaning of life.
We began to forget our songs our stories.
We can no longer see or hear our ancestors or talk
with each other across the kitchen table.
Forests were being mowed down all over the world to
make more and rabbit had no place left to play.
Rabbit's trick had backfired.
Rabbit tried to call that clay man back but when
that clay man wouldn't listen, rabbit realized
he'd made a clay man with no ears.
>>Kamerick: You wrote on a blog that this identity...
this was a quote from you...
"this identity question is one of the most
controversial in our communities and will
continue to be so until we heal of self-hatred and
loss from colonization."
How do you respond to questions of identity and
then move beyond stereotypes?
>>Harjo: What we run into because of the history of
this country which has been so distorted by the
Wild West, you know, Wild West shows, by mascots, by
you know, all of that...
we're not really seen as human beings and so what happens...
a lot of the public gets caught up in the
sentimentality and nostalgia of those kinds
of images because often those are the only images
that America will allow us to be seen in.
So they get caught up in that and want to be
identified as that and so you get you there's a
large number of the population who want to be
part of that notion.
>>Kamerick: And people who might not have grown up on
a traditional maybe Pueblo or Reservation and they're
they want to come back and find their roots or
finally capture or...
>>Harjo: Who you are is with you.
We have urban populations of natives, you know we
know who we are.
We have populations that are in reservation or tribal areas.
Not all tribal areas are called reservations, you
know, Tulsa essentially, you know, which is where
I'm from and where I now live, is really Muscogee Creek.
Most of it is Muscogee Creek lands.
>>Kamerick: How can poetry help the healing that
needs to take place in these situations?
>>Harjo: That's what, well, the healing is what
is compelling me about, you know, the US poet
I mean, how do we heal?
What is healing mean?
healing is not often easy.
It's really rugged.
There's often challenges.
there can be destruction in healing just as there
is immense possibility for creativity and so I...
poetry, a poem, can hold history.
A poem can hold, it can hold the heart, it can hold...
it's the place that you go to when you don't have
words and often healing requires that you go into
that place that you have always avoided because you
don't have the words.
>>Kamerick: In your new collection "American
Sunrise" the poem for which it's named that you
wrote, it's an homage or an evocation of the famous
poem by Gwendolyn Brooks "We Be Cool" which...
that poem is a portrait of young black men
simultaneously bragging but they're also
questioning the validity of their existence.
They're struggling to find their place in American society.
What parallels did you find in Native American youth?
>>Harjo: So it is about young people, young Native
people, years ago trying to assert themselves as
human beings and assert their identity in place
with that kind of spirit, you know, that
spiritedness that you have at that generation when
you're opening your mind to imagination in the
memory to what is possible from the doorway and
finding doorways that only they can open.
And so the poem really is really is about that kind
and saying you know at the end of yah we are still
America we are you know we're here.
>>Kamerick: It also brings out a theme I seen in your
poetry about the difficulty of trying to
live in at least two worlds if not more.
(Joy: "More") yeah!
How would you try to talk about that in your poetry
is for yourself and for other native people?
>>Harjo: I just listen and I do my poetry, you know,
I don't sit and think, well, I live in how many
worlds or I do it's not that it just it emerges that way.
People ask me, "what do you write as a Muscogee
I write as who I am as a human being and it's about
listening and so you ask for poetry comes from,
well, you listen and if it comes from you know the
source of life which gives us breath.
You know, there comes...
you listen and and you have all your tools there
but the first part of it is listening and then
enjoying the ride but it takes, you of course, it's
going to come through what you are and who are you
and where do you come from and who are your ancestors
and you know what plants have fed you and how you
know are they speaking through you or with you,
you know, it's a combination of all of that.
>>Joy Harjo: "An American Sunrise" We were running
out of breath as we ran to meet ourselves.
We were surfacing the edge of our ancestors' fights,
and ready to strike.
It was difficult to lose days in the Indian bar if
you were straight or easy if you played pool and
drink to remember to forget.
We made plans to be professional -- and some
of us could sing, when we drove to the edge of the
mountains for the drum.
We made sense of our beautiful crazed lives
under the starry stars.
Sin was invented by the Christians as was the devil, we
sang, we were the heathens but needed to be saved from them.
We knew we were all related in this story.
A little gin will clarify the dark and make us all
feel like dancing.
We had something to do with the origins of blues and jazz.
I argue with the music as I filled the jukebox with
dimes in June.
Fourty years later and we still want justice.
We are still America.
COMPOSING AN INSPIRATIONAL LEGACY.
>>Laquita Mitchell: Why do I sing?
( Laquita Singing)
I sing because I know that I have something to say.
And I know that it's important.
There's a challenge involved in singing classical music.
It's the memorization component.
It's the style component.
It's the component of actually communicating
what the composer has asked of you to communicate.
One is constantly thinking about your focus.
At this moment, what is the character thinking?
At this moment, how would the character sit?
At this moment, how would the character look into
the eyes of someone that she loves?
And so, when you have those things running in your mind...
the music lends itself to be sung.
>>Mitchell: I'm involved with the Colour of Music
Festival because I think it's a fantastic premise.
The idea is quite amazing.
>>Lee Pringle: The Colour of Music exists to
showcase the extraordinary talents people of African
ancestry have contributed to the classical genre.
We are truly the largest black, classically
The talent of the musicians that perform in
the Colour of Music Festival is truly global.
From the natural voice, having Ms. Laquita
Mitchell, who's a phenomenal soprano, to
conservatory training musicians that come from
the Kurtis Institute, Oberlin, Julliard,
Manhattan School of Music, the Royal Conservatory.
I could go on and on and on.
>>Mitchell: I think something like this can thrive.
Because the importance of inclusion and diversity is
needed and with classical music - I think it's like
0.01 percent of orchestras have people of color.
>>Pringle: So, like many black institutions that
start, it's out of necessity.
We have to create our own institutions when they're
not giving us access.
The classical music world is a very complicated,
That's where it started, by aristocrats who used to
pay very poor composers to do things that they could
show off their wealth.
So, it still carries all those standards of what
classical music should be and how it should be presented.
These people of African ancestry, many of whom
can't get the coveted spots and there are
limited spots in orchestras around the
world, this is an opportunity for them to
present these huge works.
>>Mitchell: Ms. Jessye Norman is probably one of the most
celebrated African American sopranos of our time.
She has sung in every major opera house there is
in the world.
So at the age of 14, I was able to meet Jessye Norman
and then I was able to see her on stage.
I'm a kid from Brooklyn.
I had no idea that that was actually a possibility for me.
So, the importance of diversity on stage it's paramount.
It must happen.
It's really, really important that young
people understand that there is a possibility.
When I walk out on stage, I'm thinking that.
There probably will be someone in the audience who's
never seen anyone look like me that is doing what I'm doing.
So, I need to always put my best foot forward when
MUSIC FOR HEALING.
(light guitar music)
When all the dark clouds roll away
>>Shannon Orme: Music is a way to connect with people
And the sun begins to shine
>>Eric Adelman: They're people with gifts, and talents,
and struggles like all of us have.
I see my freedom from across the way
They're some of the most eager students I've ever seen
...and ever worked with which really makes it enjoyable.
I needed help.
My mom got me to come here and it's helped me that
they've had a lot of activities, so I get out
more, you know, talking with people, socializing.
Kadima serves people who are struggling with
typically chronic and persistent mental health
challenges who need support to be able to live
independently in the community.
Kadima's Creative Expressions program was
started to provide the people we serve with
opportunities to experience the arts and then to
have that integrated with their formal treatment goals.
Studies go back years showing the benefit of
participating in arts programming for people
with mental health challenges.
We were introduced to a number of arts
organizations, including the Detroit Symphony
Orchestra that come and work with people we serve.
Music is important for therapy because it helps
people get in touch with their emotions.
When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
>>Orme: We need to really feel in our lives in
order to get better and music just kinda helps
that come out in a really honest way.
Members of the DSO, they come to us and they-- we
interact, we play music together.
And it seems like
I sing songs and I, I enjoy doing that.
Yes, it seems like
Many people with mental health challenges are exceedingly
creative. And so, we have a number of very talented
singers, and flautists, and violin players, and trombonists,
and clarinetists, and piano players, and more.
Woolford Joel, he plays trombone.
His dad was like, first chair in the DSO.
You know, it's a great thing for him to be able to do.
He plays trombone and he plays keyboards.
For me, it's great to have a place to come sing.
You're the meanest old woman that I've ever seen
We've been singing "Hit the Road, Jack," Ray
Charles, and it's just a lot of fun.
Hit the road, Jack.
And don't you come back no more.
What you say
So remember, the two fingers on the right hand?
>>Adelman: The DSO musicians spend time
working on pieces that our clients are interested in
working on and learning more about.
And then for some of our other folks who don't have
a history of playing the instruments, there was a
music therapist who worked with them on some other
skills that were integrated into their treatment plans.
The music therapy piece isn't to be discounted.
For some of the people we serve, just engaging with
a group in a group activity and learning some
basic music skills or some more advanced music skills is
a great way for them to be engaged in the project as well.
So many of the people that we serve have been
discounted through their whole lives.
Have had it so-- you know, people don't believe in
them or see the potential that they have and what's
been so wonderful about the musicians who are with
us is they, they really see the potential there.
They're just smiling the whole time when they're
engaged and they're doing something they really love
to do, they're experiencing something new and we
try to plan the session so that everyone can be involved.
When we're doing a song, they have me lead
sometimes like last time.
We had a lot of fun on "Hit the Road Jack."
And don't you come back no more. What you say
>>Adelman: In addition to being able
to spend some time with their friends and do
something different, they're able to build some
skills and build some confidence.
Often, when we build and gain confidence in
anything that we're doing, any of us, that translates
to other areas of our lives.
It's improved my confidence.
I've performed in front of a group.
It improves my confidence at karaoke too.
And it gives so much light and it comes from the sky above
>>Adelman: We culminate this experience
with a recital, with a performance, an
opportunity for the people we serve to show to their friends
and family what they've learned and what they've built.
We're doing a concert at the home
of Janet Aronoff, who is one of Kadima's founders and somebody
who's supported this project over the years.
I think the people who come to the concert are
gonna get a wonderful musical experience and
it's an opportunity for everybody to see the
people we serve as just that, as people.
>>Orme: The participants here at Kadima have become
much more confident with playing in front of other people.
At first, I was like, I had my eyes like
practically closed but I was looking down at the lyrics.
But then when I connected with the audience, I felt
that was the best thing.
Brand new day.
Brand new day.
Brand new day.
>>Adelman: I think one of the exciting things about this
program is it's an opportunity for everybody to learn.
I think that the musicians are gaining a broader
understanding of the world of mental illness.
>>Orme: The people here at Kadima are just such
interesting people and interesting to talk to and
all have good hearts and willing to learn.
With a little luck, these sorts of programs can help
reduce stigma and provide more opportunities for people
to talk about mental health challenges and seek care.
We're thrilled these days more people are talking
about mental health, are seeking out the care they
need, and getting the care they need and it's
imperative that we help people build up skills so
they can live a rich and productive and meaningful life.
Anybody interested in getting involved with
Kadima who, you know, who has some issues, come on
out, get involved.
You'll thank yourself.
Thank you, everyone.
BRINGING THE FANTASTIC TO LIFE.
>>Reporter: We're on the west side of Houston,
practically to Katy, where there lives a man who can
make your greatest fantasies come to life.
Or at this time of the year, maybe take your
worst nightmares and give them flight.
Here take a look.
Disguising yourself at Halloween is a long-standing tradition.
Initially believed that since spirits walked the
Earth on All Hallows Eve, if we hid our identities, the spirits
wouldn't recognize us and thus would leave us be.
Over the years, we've dressed in costumes, put on masks,
even hidden our faces using clown makeup and greasepaint.
But artist Rudy Campos has perfected his own airbrush
makeup techniques that truly mask our identities.
So how long have you been doing this?
>>Rudy Campos: So I've been doing this since
probably like, I started in high school.
Uh, I started in high school doing just
Halloween makeups and then I'd watch a lot of monster movies.
So, I'd, I'd do it, uh, off Halloween season, but
actually doing makeup since about 2005.
>>Reporter: Early on, Rudy used himself as a model, even going
so far as to glue prosthetic pieces to his own face.
But when it came time to remove the pieces, he had
no idea what to use.
>>Rudy Campos: But I learned a valuable lesson that day.
If you're gonna be gluing something to your face,
always know what the remover is gonna be.
>>Reporter: Before you start.
>>Reporter: As Rudy got older, it looked like
college wasn't for him, but if college wasn't in
the cards, his dad told him, he needed to get a trade.
>>Campos: My dad said, I know that you like makeup
and I know that you like special effects and you're
into that, so let's find you a school, and he found one.
>>Reporter: Rudy completed makeup school and as a
graduation gift from his parents he received his
first airbrush and that became his tool of choice.
But when it comes to Halloween makeup, most
folks don't have an airbrush and end up having
to use sponges and brushes.
But Rudy has a couple of tips for the home creator too.
>>Campos: Whether it be a sponge or brush just use two.
One to apply and then one to blend out.
>>Reporter: And the other tip?
>>Campos: Stray away from the, uh, the, the
Halloween makeup that you'd get at, at, uh, like
Halloween stores or like Wal-Mart and stuff.
You want, you want it to look good, you want to go
to like a theatrical store.
>>Reporter: But since we all can't be masters of
this art form, Rudy is there to help us become
our fantasy selves.
But what is it that keeps Rudy painting on?
>>Campos: The biggest thing that I get out of
doing this is watching people look at themselves
in the mirror and seeing the character that they become.
>>Reporter: And thanks to Rudy and his handy
airbrush, these transformations just keep coming.
>>Campos: How do you like it?
>>Customer: Woah, I'm a fawn.
>>Reporter: With a little bit of imagination and a
whole lot of airbrushing, anything is possible.
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"UNTIL NEXT WEEK, THANK YOU FOR WATCHING."
Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:
Frederick Hammersley Foundation
...and Viewers Like You