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Introduction & Overview of Anniversary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Anniversary.
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Anniversary Summary & Study Guide Description

Anniversary Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Anniversary by Joy Harjo.

Joy Harjo's "Anniversary" is a "creation" poem— that is, it attempts to recount how the world began and when humankind came to be. It is included in the aptly titled collection Map to the Next World, but it differs from many other poems in this book in that its themes and language are not as pessimistic and they do not center on human cruelty. Published in 2000, on the brink of a new millennium, and subtitled "Poetry and Tales," Map to the Next World takes readers through stories, in both prose and verse, of America's brutal history, the long suffering of Indians, and memories of the poet's own bitter past. However, some of the poems in this collection offer hope for a better future and describe the miracles of human nature instead of its brutality. "Anniversary" is one of these.

The title of this poem is indicative of its celebratory premise, for anniversaries are typically considered happy occasions. Yes, humans also mark the sad dates of the deaths of loved ones or of national tragedies with the same word—the anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, for instance—but more often an anniversary is a measurement of time for a pleasant event. Harjo, of course, cannot specify exactly which anniversary this is for the human race. That debate has been going on among theologians and scientists for centuries. She treats the number, no matter what it is, as relatively insignificant. The last line of the poem reads simply, "And it's been years." But the rest of the poem—with descriptions of flames and crows, smoke and "a spiral of gods," fish and "waving grass"—makes it very clear that there is nothing insignificant at all about the story the poem tells.

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This section contains 292 words
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Poetry for Students
Anniversary from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.