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If there’s a musicality in Joy Harjo’s poetry, it might be because the Oklahoma poet plays alto saxophone and flute with her band Arrow Dynamics in addition to her extensive career as a writer and teacher. Last year, the member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was anointed as the U.S. poet laureate — the first Native American writer selected in that role. “May we all find the way home,” Harjo offers in her new collection, An American Sunrise. She takes the tragedy of the Trail of Tears — caused when President Andrew Jackson instigated the Indian Removal Act, in which indigenous people “were forcibly removed from their homelands by government forces” — and reclaims that history by mixing in the personal stories of her family. Harjo also draws parallels between the Trail of Tears and immigrant refugees trying to escape oppression in Central America.

Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thu., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.

 

LA Weekly