Learning to Sing Fire

One of my new songs comes from the poem Fire by Joy Harjo. She is an author, musician, teacher, and member of the Mvskoke Nation.


I first encountered her poem in a collection of women writers on nature called Sisters of the Earth (1991).

The images in the poem: woman, mountain, blue sky, and night wind speak of an animate world of interconnection. But what is the fire of the poem’s title?

As I’ve been learning to sing this song, I have watched the prayerful resistance grow to the Dakota Access Pipeline. A friend from college who traveled to the Oceti Sakowin Camp in late November shared this message from a United Seven Fires Council of the Sioux Nation ceremony she attended:

“…Each of us carries an ember in our hearts of the Sacred Fire which burns and has burned continuously for hundreds of years. (this is the fire burning at Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock currently) We must start our own Sacred Fires with these embers in our own communities…”

This message seems to be at the heart of this poem. The poem implores us to look within our hearts, to summon empathy, to feel, and to bring our essential gifts to our communities and families. The world needs us now more than ever.

I am indebted to Joy Harjo for allowing me to sing and record Fire. Any the income I receive for selling this song on its future recordings or performing this song live with be donated to indigenous environmental causes.