Joyce Harjo on the Gifts of the Pandemic

A theme that runs through this interview with Joyce Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate, is home. We moved to Austin, TX because my wife wanted to go home. California was losing its appeal (cost of living, forest fires, and our direction diverging from the communities we were in). Sitting on the porch of the B&B we were staying in, drinking hard cider and chocolate cookies, Austin felt good.

It has been twenty one years and it is not feeling so much like home any more. Summers have always been rough. This past winter was not easy, though we did better than most. A fire station and two nursing homes are on our electrical circuit and so we had no rolling blackouts. The contaminated water for a few days was a problem.

The political climate has worsened. The Texas Legislature seems determined to prove how small minded and mean spirited they can be to people who aren’t rich, white, and powerful. They are also trying to ram through permit-less gun carry in spite of the opposition of the police. It is unlikely they will do anything to improve the reliability of the electric grid (or the water and sewer lines). It doesn’t feel much like home any more. Hearing some one else struggling with home, is heartening and inspiring.

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