VOICES OF THE RAINBOW: Contemporary Poetry by American Indians by Kenneth--Ed. Rosen

VOICES OF THE RAINBOW: Contemporary Poetry by American Indians

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Several of these 21 writers from almost as many tribal nations also appeared in Rosen's 1973 anthology of short fiction by Amerindians, but overall, taken together, their work has as much a sense of anonymity as ancient storytellers or balladeers. They share a vision of the land and the People (and of ""justified genocide"") that recurs in almost identical imagery from one poet to the next. These songs are a kind of 20th century folklore, as though they've rejected the white man's civilization across the board--his schools, his cosmology, his artistic tradition. They've even adopted similar forms, favoring the short line, often broken up across the page, and lower-case, run-on personal statement or lyric. Dreams occupy an important place in their collective mythology, along with naming and ceremony. Song-making itself has a ritualistic aspect as though it were a sacred duty to ""mourn the buffalo and the beaver/ keen the fox and mountain cat/ shout/ the grizzly/ antelope/ elk moose caribou. . . ."" Of course they're sad and angry: when the Indian leaders of Wounded Knee are prosecuted while the architects of Vietnam get rich--the indictments of corporate whiteman and abusive redneck are also here. And ""Phil George"" engages our sympathies in a very real way when he explains how he came by that anglo moniker: Two Swans Ascending from Still Waters was too long for his grade-school teacher to remember. Kenneth Rosen has done a fine job.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1975
Publisher: Viking