32 pages 1 hour read

Joy Harjo

An American Sunrise

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2017

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Related Poems

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks (1960)

We Real Cool” is arguably Brooks’s most recognized work as a Black writer documenting her times. The poem, which describes a group of young men Brooks observed at a pool hall in her hometown, Chicago, immortalizes the busy lifestyle of her neighborhood with quick rhymes, strong musicality, and sobering truths. It is tied directly to Harjo’s poem since it appears in “An American Sunrise” as a form of inspiration, perhaps alluding to the ongoing conversation and allyship between writers in marginalized communities.

The Golden Shovel“ by Terence Hayes (2010)

In addition to Harjo, many poets have used “We Real Cool” as inspiration for their own works. Some of these poems take the form of what poet Terence Hayes—the form’s creator—calls a Golden Shovel. Hayes, in fact, coined the new poetic form in honor of Brooks. Like “An American Sunrise,” “The Golden Shovel” both upends tradition and pays homage to those who also search for community.

When the World as We Knew It Ended“ by Joy Harjo (2002)

“When the World as We Knew it Ended” is part of Harjo’s collection called How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems: 1975-2001.