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Honorary Curator Gerald Vizenor

Gerald Vizenor
Honorary Curator, 2021-2022

Appointment Announcement

John Stevenson photoThe American Haiku Archives advisory board is pleased to announce the appointment of Gerald Vizenor as the 2021-2022 honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento. This honor recognizes his seven decades of writing and publishing haiku poetry and his status as a literary artist. He is a citizen of the White Earth Nation in Minnesota. Few contemporary English-language haiku poets, perhaps none, have been writing haiku for as long as Gerald Vizenor.

In addition, we are pleased to celebrate this appointment with a special Zoom reading on Sunday, September 26, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time (2:00 p.m. Eastern time).

Video of the 2021 Honorary Curator Reading:
Gerald Vizenor - September 26, 2021 (Passcode: 80wk?i?w)

See the introduction to the reading: "Gerald Vizenor and Haiku Traces" by Kim Blaeser

The American Haiku Archives will share a video on YouTube from this event. This video will help celebrate Gerald Vizenor as the 2020-21 honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives.

Gerald Vizenor first learned of haiku while serving in the Army in northern Japan in the early 1950s. “Haiku,” he says, “inspired me on the road as a soldier in another culture and gently turned me back to the seasons, back to the traces of nature and the tease of native reason and memories. The imagistic scenes of haiku were neither exotic nor obscure to me.” In the Utne Reader a reviewer once said, “The Japanese verse form flows together with trickster stories and Native dream songs in Vizenor’s literary canon of surprise and delight.”

Vizenor is professor emeritus of American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He has published more than thirty books, historical novels, literary and cultural studies, and poetry. His most recent publications include Favor of Crows: New and Selected Haiku, a series of three historical novels, Blue Ravens, Native Tributes, and Satie on the Seine: Letters to the Heirs of the Fur Trade, and Native Provenance: The Betrayal of Cultural Creativity, a collection of essays. Vizenor has received many awards including the American Book Award for Griever: An American Monkey King in China, the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, and the Mark Twain Award for distinguished contributions to Midwestern Literature. His other haiku books, the first of which was published in 1962, include Two Wings the Butterfly, Seventeen Chirps, Matsushima: Pine Islands, Empty Swings, Raising the Moon Vines, and Cranes Arise: Haiku Scenes, among others. Vizenor was also a keynote speaker at the 1999 Haiku North America conference in Evanston, Illinois.

In introducing his new and collected haiku, Favor of Crows, published in 2014, Vizenor says, “The heart of haiku is a tease of nature, a concise, intuitive, and original moment. Haiku is visionary, a timely meditation, an ironic manner of creation, and a sense of motion, and, at the same time, a consciousness of seasonal impermanence.” He adds that “Haiku was my first sense of totemic survivance in poetry, the visual and imagistic associations of nature, and of perception and experience.”

We are pleased to celebrate Gerald Vizenor, and to bestow this honor from the American Haiku Archives, which seeks to preserve and promote haiku and related poetry throughout the North American continent. The following are four of Gerald’s haiku scenes, one for each season:

wooden bucket
frozen under a downspout
springs a leak

bright hollyhocks
teeter in the rush of trains
flurry of faces

chilly night
crickets chirp in a down spout
last words

park bench
covered with mounds of snow
giants for a day

The AHA advisory board is delighted to pay tribute to Gerald Vizenor as the twenty-fifth honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives. To search the collections of the American Haiku Archives online, please visit http://www.library.ca.gov/. For information on donating material to the archives, or other information about its history and past honorary curators, please visit the American Haiku Archives website at www.americanhaikuarchives.org.

~Michael Dylan Welch, American Haiku Archives Advisory Board Co-chair

 

from ~ Favor of Crows: New and Selected Haiku, 2014

HAIKU SCENES

The heart of haiku is a tease of nature, a concise, intuitive, and an original moment of perception. Haiku is visionary, a timely meditation, and a sense of natural motion.

Haiku scenes are tricky fusions of emotion, ethos, and a sense of survivance. The aesthetic creases, or precise, perceptive turns, traces, and cut of words in haiku, are stray shadows of nature, reverie, resistance, and memory.

Matsushima, Japan, by chance of active military service, was my first connection with haiku images and scenes, the actual places the moon rose over those beautiful pine islands in the haibun, or prose haiku, of Matsuo Basho.

“Much praise had already been lavished upon the wonders of the islands of Matsushima,” Basho writes in The Narrow Road to the Deep North, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa.

“Yet if further praise is possible, I would like to say that here is the most beautiful spot in the whole country of Japan . . . The islands are situated in a bay about three miles wide in every direction and open to the sea . . . Islands are piled above islands, and islands are joined to islands, so that they look exactly like parents caressing their children or walking with them arm in arm. The pines are of the freshest green, and their branches are curved in exquisite lines, bent by the wind constantly blowing through them.”

Matsushima and the pine islands are forever in my memories and in the book. I was there, in that same haibun sense of presence and place, almost three centuries later in the motion of the seasons and tried my best to envision the actual presence of Basho at Matsushima.

water striders
master basho wades near shore
out of reach

The United States Army assigned me to serve first in a tank battalion on Hokkaido and later at a military post near Sendai in northern Japan. Haiku, in a sense, inspired me on the road as a soldier in another culture and gently turned me back to the seasons, back to the traces of nature and the tease of native reason and memories. The imagistic scenes of haiku were neither exotic nor obscure to me. Nature then and now was a sense of presence, changeable and chancy, not some courtly tenure of experience, or pretense of comparative and taxonomic discovery.

Haiku scenes are similar, in a sense, to the original dream songs and visionary images of the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa or Ojibwe, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I was inspired by these imagistic literary connections at the time. Once, words and worlds apart in time and place, these poetic images of haiku and native dream songs came together more by chance than fate, and later by intuition, meditation, and consideration.

~Gerald Vizenor, Favor of Crows: New and Selected Haiku, 2014

 

Selected Haiku

Selected Haiku Scenes from Favor of Crows.

 

SPRING SCENES:

mounds of foam
beneath the waterfall
float silently

wooden bucket
frozen under a downspout
springs a leak

early morning
the old red waterwheel
starts to squeak

march morning
meadowlarks on a fence post
change of music

 

SUMMER SCENES:

bright hollyhocks
teeter in the rush of trains
flurry of faces

morning glories
brighten the moist shadows
faces on a bench

party moths
danced last night in a lantern
sunrise stories

fat green flies
square dance across the grapefruit
honor your partner

 

AUTUMN SCENES:

calm in the storm
master basho soaks his feet
water striders

redwing blackbirds
bounce on the reeds in the slough
curtain calls

spider web
woven over the harness
caught a weary fly

chilly night
crickets chirp in a down spout
last words

 

WINTER SCENES:

thin clouds
stretch across the night sky
tease the moon

daily newspapers
stacked under the window
elevates the cat

park bench
covered with mounds of snow
giants for a day

crowns of snow
decorate the pinyon boughs
overnight reign

 

HAIKU by Gerald Vizenor

Favor of Crows New and Collected Haiku of Gerald Vizenor. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2014.

Cranes Arise: Haiku by Gerald Vizenor. Minneapolis, MN: Nodin Press, 1999.

Raising the Moon Vines, haiku poems. Nodin Press, Minneapolis, 1999. [New edition based on the 1964 Callimachus Publishing version.]

Matsushima: Pine Islands. Minneapolis, MN: Nodin Press, 1984.

Empty Swings: Haiku in English. Minneapolis, MN: Nodin Press, 1967.

Seventeen Chirps: Haiku in English. Minneapolis, MN: Nodin Press, 1964.

 

POETRY:

Almost Ashore: Selected Poems, Salt Publishing, Cambridge, England, 2006.

Quasi En Terra, Catalan translation of Almost Ashore by Carme Manuel Cuenca, Editorial Denes, Poesia Edicions De La Guerra, Valencia, Spain, 2009.

Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point, University of Minnesota Press, 2006.

 

HISTORICAL NOVELS:

Satie on the Seine: Letters to The Heirs of The Fur Trade, Historical Novel, Wesleyan University Press, 2020.

Native Tributes, historical Novel, Wesleyan University Press, 2018.

Blue Ravens, Historical Novel about Native Americans in the First World War,
Wesleyan University Press, 2014.

Les Corbeaux Bleus, French Translation of Blue Ravens, O. D. Editions, Paris, France, 2016.

 

FICTION NOVELS:

Treaty Shirts: A Familiar Treatise on The White Earth Nation, Wesleyan University Press, 2016.

Chair of Tears, a novel, Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press, 2011.

Shrouds of White Earth, State University of New York Press, 2010.

Father Meme, University of New Mexico, 2008.

Wordarrows: Native States of Literary Sovereignty, University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Chancers, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2000,

Craneurs, French translation of Chancers, Éditions du Rocher, Paris, 2007.

The Trickster of Liberty: Native Heirs to a Wild Baronage, University of Oklahoma Press, February 2005.

Hiroshima Bugi: Atomu 57, University of Nebraska Press, November 2003.

Hotline Healers: An Almost Browne Novel, Wesleyan University Press, 1997.

Dead Voices: Natural Agonies in the New World, University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.

The Heirs of Columbus, Wesleyan University Press, 1991.

Landfill Meditation, Wesleyan University Press, 1991.

Griever: An American Monkey King in China, novel, Fiction Collective Award, 1986, American Book Award, 1988, University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles, University of Minnesota Press, 1990.

The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage, University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

 

Critical Essays by Gerald Vizenor

Native Provenance: Betrayal of Cultural Creativity, University of Nebraska Press, 2019.

The White Earth Reservation: Ratification of a Native Democratic Constitution, Gerald Vizenor and Jill Doerfler, University of Nebraska Press, 2012.

Native Liberty: Natural Reason and Cultural Sovereignty, University of Nebraska Press, 2009.

The Everlasting Sky: New Voices from the People Named the Chippewa, Crowell Collier Press, New York, Collier Macmillan, London, 1972.

Manifest Manners: Narratives of Postindian Survivance, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1999.

Fugitive Poses: Native American Indian Scenes of Absence and Presence, University of Nebraska Press, The Abraham Lincoln Lecture Series, 1998.

Shadow Distance: A Gerald Vizenor Reader, autobiography, fiction, stories, essays, and other selections, Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

Crossbloods: Bone Courts, Bingo, and Other Reports, University of Minnesota Press, 1990.

The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories, University of Minnesota Press, 1983.

 

Criticism on Gerald Vizenor's Writing

Andrews, Jennifer and Kimberly Blaeser. “Living History: A Conversation with Kimberly Blaeser.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, Series 2, 19.2 (2007): 1-21. [Includes interview regarding Blaeser’s study of Gerald Vizenor’s haiku.]

Blaeser, Kimberly M. “Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition.” University of Notre Dame, 1990. Dissertation. 323 pages.

Blaeser, Kimberly M. Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.

Blaeser, Kimberly M. "’Interior Dancers’: Transformations of Vizenor's Poetic Vision.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, Series 2, 9.1, (1997): 3-15.

Blaeser, Kimberly M. "The Multiple Traditions of Gerald Vizenor's Haiku Poetry." New Voices in Native American Literary Criticism. 344-369. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, n.d.

Bowers, Neal, Chalres L. P. Silet and Gerald Vizenor. “An Interview with Gerald Vizenor.” MELUS, 8.1 (Spring, 1981): 41-49.

Hein, Christina. "Enriching Prose with Haiku Poetics." The Poetry and Poetics of Gerald Vizenor. 113-134.Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2012.

Heslstern, Linda Lizut. “Gerald Vizenor: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, Series 2, 11.1 (1999): 30-80.

Knittel, Janna. "In the Natural World of Chance: An Interview with Gerald Vizenor." Great River Review 61 (2014): 23-41.

Lynch, Tom. "To Honor Impermanence: The Haiku and Other Poems of Gerald Vizenor." Loosening the Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor. 203-224. Bowling Green, OH: Popular, 2000.

Madsen, Deborah L. and A Robert Lee. Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts. University of New Mexico Press, 2011.

Madsen, Deborah L., Edtior. The Poetry and Poetics of Gerald Vizenor. University of New Mexico Press, 2012.

Moore, David L. "Moon Vines Among the Ruins: Vizenor's Poetics of Native Presence." Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts. 106-128. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2010.

Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown. “Gerald Vizenor: Selected Bibliography.” American Indian Quarterly 9.1(1985): 75-78.

Ruoff, A. LaVonne Brown. and Gerald Vizenor. “Woodland Word Warrior: An Introduction to the Works of Gerald Vizenor.” MELUS 13.1/2, (1986): 13-43.

Vizenor, Gerald. “Gerald Vizenor: A.S.A.I.L. Bibliography #8.” Studies in American Indian Literatures, New Series, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Spring 1985), pp. 46-48.

Vizenor, Gerald. “The Envoy to Haiku.” Chicago Review 39.3/4 (1993): 55-62.

 

Web Links

Haiku by Gerald Vizenor, Terebess Asia Online (TAO)

Gerald Vizenor | Poetry Foundation

Favor of Crows - Modern Haiku book review by Charles Trumbull, Modern Haiku 45.3

A. Robert Lee and Gerald Vizenor Conversation - Weber Studies

Gerald Vizenor- Native American Poet, Novelist and Essayist - Native American Lit

Gerald Vizenor - Wikipedia

A Conversation with Gerald Vizenor and Kimberly Blaeser - YouTube 2016

To Honor Impermanence: The Haiku and Other Poems of Gerald Vizenor by Tom Lynch

 

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