Joy Harjo"Poets have to be inside their poems somewhere, or the poem won't work."

Day 5: Inspiration (National Poetry Month)

Typewriter Poetry

Today’s the Fifth Day of National Poetry Month! Have you written a poem, yet? Get inspired by today’s quote, or visit the Daily Typewriter Poetry post to see what poems others have written.

Daily Writing Inspiration

Our writing quote of the day is brought to you by Joy Harjo.

Want more inspiration for writing poetry? Read the previous quotes, below:

Donate to Tupelo Press

For #NationalPoetryMonth, I’m fundraising on behalf of Tupelo Press, a small literary publisher. Tupelo’s 30/30 Project is an all-year monthly round of writing a poem a day. Check out their website and read the collection of poetry we’ve volunteered to write for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.


Enjoying the work I’ve been steadily producing? It’s for my upcoming art book, suck myself out the heart i give it back. You can read more about the project here. I also encourage you to donate in my name to Tupelo Press. 100% of proceeds go to their literary press, and it’s tax-deductible!

Inspirational Poetry Quote

Poets have to be inside their poems somewhere, or the poem won’t work.

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poets. She’s a wonderful performer who enjoys combining her words with music: whether it’s a full band, a drum, or just her voice and a saxophone, Harjo finds creative ways to deliver the messages she has been given.

Mixing generational, personal, and collective narratives, she weaves us through worlds that are simultaneously of this place and beyond it.

Harjo’s poems confront trauma head-on: racism and sexism are dismantled through Native American culture, mythology, and poetics. Earth, dust, sky, sand, water, ground: every element of this earth, this universe, this life has its place in this struggle.

Harjo does not shy away from the fact that living is a battle. In fact, she embraces it, embraces her friends, her enemies, her loves, and those of us who remain unknown. We are fighting to reclaim ourselves, to be healed. The earth is renewed through her poetry–and in the process, so are we.

Enjoy one of my many favorite poems by Harjo, “This Is My Heart.”

This Is My Heart

This is my heart. It is a good heart.
Bones and a membrane of mist and fire
are the woven cover.
When we make love in the flower world
my heart is close enough to sing
to yours in a language that has no use
for clumsy human words.

My head, is a good head, but it is a hard head
and it whirs inside with a swarm of worries.
What is the source of this singing, it asks
and if there is a source why can’t I see it
right here, right now
as real as these hands hammering
the world together
with nails and sinew?

This is my soul. It is a good soul.
It tells me, “Come here forgetful one.”
And we sit together with lilt of small winds
who rattle the scrub oak.
We cook a little something
to eat, then a sip of something
sweet, for memory.

This is my song. It is a good song.
It walked forever the border of fire and water
climbed ribs of desire to my lips to sing to you.
Its new wings quiver with vulnerability.
Come lie next to me, says my heart.
Put your head here.
It is a good thing, says my soul.