Cause to Celebrate

Of course, Benedictines have many reasons to celebrate because our community-minded living means we want to honor each other on special occasions such as birthdays and name days. This practice sometimes makes our calendars quite full since we also celebrate feast days, many revered saints and other seasonal days of special importance. Thus, on June 19, when Joy Harjo, well-known poet of the Muskoke Creek Nation, became the first native woman to be named as the new poet laureate, that was true cause to celebrate.

She was born in 1951 and has authored several books of poetry including An American Sunrise, which is forthcoming from W.W. Norton, and recently finished editing a Norton Anthology of Native Poetry: When the Light of the World has Dimmed Our Songs Came Through.

According to a recent interview on, Joy Harjo calls poetry “the voice of what can’t be spoken, the mode of truth-telling when meaning needs to rise above or skim below everyday language in shapes not discernible by the ordinary mind. It trumps the rhetoric of politicians. Poetry is prophetic in nature and not bound by time.” Lastly, Joy Harjo says, “Without poetry, we lose our way.”

Has Joy Harjo been to St. Ben’s? Yes, she was invited to a poetry reading and reflection that was part of the Religion and Contemporary Culture series “Sacred Spaces” in 1991. Is it time to invite her again?

Mary Jane Berger, OSB