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The Poetry and Poetics of Gerald Vizenor

Deborah L. Madsen

Publication Year: 2012

The first book devoted exclusively to the poetry and literary aesthetics of one of Native America’s most accomplished writers, this collection of essays brings together detailed critical analyses of single texts and individual poetry collections from diverse theoretical perspectives, along with comparative discussions of Vizenor’s related works. Contributors discuss Vizenor’s philosophy of poetic expression, his innovations in diverse poetic genres, and the dynamic interrelationships between Vizenor’s poetry and his prose writings.

Throughout his poetic career Vizenor has returned to common tropes, themes, and structures. Indeed, it is difficult to distinguish clearly his work in poetry from his prose, fiction, and drama. The essays gathered in this collection offer powerful evidence of the continuing influence of Anishinaabe dream songs and the haiku form in Vizenor’s novels, stories, and theoretical essays; this influence is most obvious at the level of grammatical structure and imagistic composition but can also be discerned in terms of themes and issues to which Vizenor continues to return.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-

It is a great pleasure to acknowledge the encouragement, support, and friendship of Gerald Vizenor, and to thank him for his invisible yet palpable contribution to this volume. Luther Wilson, former director of the University of New Mexico Press, lent his initial support to this project; acquisitions editor Elizabeth...

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Introduction: The Tribal Trajectory of Vizenor’s Poetic Career

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pp. ix-xxiii

The trajectory of Vizenor’s poetic career resists a linear teleology in favor of a tribal circling, a return to common tropes, themes, and structures. Indeed, it is difficult to distinguish clearly his work in poetry from his prose, fiction, and drama. In each of the genres in which he works, Vizenor’s poetic language works to subvert...

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1: The Language of Borders, the Borders of Language in Gerald Vizenor’s Poetry

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pp. 1-22

The language throughout Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor’s critical and creative work—singularly evocative and evasive as it is, repeatedly calls up images of borders and border crossings, of the possibility of transformation. Literal boundary lines such as international borders across tribal homelands or demarcations between....

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2: “It may be revolutionary in character": The Progress, a New Tribal Hermeneutics, and the Literary Re-expression of the Anishinaabe Oral Tradition in Summer in the Spring

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pp. 23-42

Among the many publications of Gerald Vizenor’s long career perhaps the most curious is Summer in the Spring. Constituting one of the earliest of Vizenor’s works explicitly dealing with tribal themes, Summer in the Spring has remained largely untouched by critics, yet still hovers on the periphery of Vizenor’s impressive oeuvre. The lack of critical attention to the book may have to do with the fact that...

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3: Flying Gerald Vizenor Home in Words and Myths Or, How to Translate His Poetry into Catalan

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pp. 43-62

On July 3, 1939, two weeks before the Spanish Civil War broke out, an article by Carles Cardó titled “Del plaer i del turment de traduir” (“On the Pleasure and Torment of Translating”) was published in the newspaper La Veu de Catalunya (The Voice of Catalonia). Montserrat Bacardí explains that, among other considerations...

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4: Almost California: Returning to Elemental Vizenor

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pp. 63-79

In “Almost Ashore,” the closing poem of Kimberly Blaeser’s 2006 anthology of contemporary Ojibwe poetry that also provides its title—Traces in Blood, Bone, & Stone—Gerald Vizenor writes...

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5: Vizenor’s Life Studies: Revisioning Survivance in Almost Ashore

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pp. 80-97

Almost Ashore: Selected Poems owes a great deal to Gerald Vizenor’s lifelong devotion to haiku, the evanescent moment of being held briefly in fullness. Even the short poetic line he uses throughout the volume, seldom seven syllables in length, bespeaks a kinship to haiku, but Vizenor’s first volume of nonhaiku poetry...

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6: Gaps, Immediacy, and the Deconstruction of Epistemological Categories: The Impact of Gerald Vizenor’s Poetry on His Prose

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pp. 98-112

Gerald Vizenor is one of the most prolific Native writers and scholars, and an important cultural theorist; his coinage (or creative revival) of terms such as “postindian” or “survivance” has become indispensable for contemporary cultural theory and Native American studies. It is, however, Vizenor’s poetry and specifically...

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7: Enriching Prose with Haiku Poetics

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pp. 113-134

After some twenty years of having written and teased the reader in the haiku genre, in Matsushima: Pine Island—his sixth volume of haiku— Gerald Vizenor presents his understanding of and approach to haiku. In the introductory essay that precedes the volume, he relates bits of the reception history of haiku in the Anglophone...

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8: Reinventing the Nature of Language: The Poetics of Gerald Vizenor’s Prose

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pp. 135-163

One of the most immediate and elusive aspects of Gerald Vizenor’s writing is the distinctive originality of his style, the complex, careful, yet cavalier ways that he recasts the English language to fit, or better, to generate, his unique voice. No one else writes like Vizenor, Anishinaabe novelist, poet, and critical theorist. For me...

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9: “Compassion is learned”: Of Squirrels and Men in Vizenor’s Poetry and Prose

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pp. 164-183

Squirrels are ubiquitous. Unlike most animals they exist in almost every climate and region. They have relationships with humans all over the globe. They are wild and urban; they represent the liminal space between the natural and the artificial or man-made. They occupy different worlds: the sky (high up in the trees,...

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10: Vizenor’s Elegies on a Red Squirrel

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pp. 184-195

A very great deal of what can be considered indigenous, elegiac expression—oral performances and written texts generally concerned with death and loss—appears to be strongly oriented not only toward commemoration and mourning but toward collective consolation and revitalization in the interest of what Gerald Vizenor...

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11: There’s a Hole in the Day: The Third Infantry and Vizenor’s Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point

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pp. 196-204

The Third U.S. Infantry, established in 1784 as the First American regiment, was the storied veteran of many imperial campaigns. Created by an act of Congress, it formed the nucleus of the regular U.S. Army. William Henry Harrison commanded it on the Canadian border during the War of 1812, after which it was...

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12: Being Embedded: Gerald Vizenor’s Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point

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pp. 205-222

White Earth Anishinaabe Gerald Vizenor writes phrases, sentences, lines, and passages that are stunning in their richness and aptness, their capacity to produce or invoke an image, and to capture moment, place, sentiment, and intelligence. By way of opening, then, let me offer what to my mind are the most poignant lines in...

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13: The Question of Nationalism: Sovereign Aesthetics in Bear Island

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pp. 223-241

White Earth Anishinaabe Gerald Vizenor writes phrases, sentences, lines, and passages that are stunning in their richness and aptness, their capacity to produce or invoke an image, and to capture ...moment, place, sentiment, and intelligence. By way of opening, then, let me offer what to my mind are the most poignant

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Contributors

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pp. 242-246

Susan Bernardin is an associate professor in the Department of English and chair of women’s studies at the State University of New York at Oneonta. She has published articles and book essays on foundational and contemporary Native writers, including Gertrude Bonnin, Mourning Dove, and Louis Owens. She...

Index

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pp. 247-253

Back Cover

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p. 279-279


E-ISBN-13: 9780826352514
E-ISBN-10: 0826352510
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826352491
Print-ISBN-10: 0826352499

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2012