Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(2.5) Native American Poetry


- forced from their original habitations in the South and Northeast to move to Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico

- one of the smallest minorities as to the number of population

- the oldest of ethnic literatures as to the oral tradition of the individual tribes, the youngest to become published

- the natives used to have an inferior social status, their numerous different languages slowed down translations

- the first translations into English often lost the original onomatopoeic quality and the character of performance

- the most exploited genres are autobiographical prose, poetry, and plays typically on one’s tribe or personal history

- Native American Renaissance (since 1960s): restoration of the native oral tradition transformed into writing


> Voices from Wah’Kon-Tan: Contemporary Poetry of Native Americans (1974)

> Carriers of the Dream Wheel (1975)

> Voices of the Rainbow: Contemporary Poetry by American Indians (1975)


- both the form and content heavily influenced by the oral tradition of tribe rituals, songs, and creation stories

- typically song-like performance poetry in free verse, mostly in confessional mode, melancholy or militant in tone

- exploration of one’s relationship to the heritage of ancestors, indictment of European and American imperialism, challenging the conventional myths about the Indians and their way of life (the myth of the Noble Savage)

- frequent motif of the character of trickster presented as a god, animal, or human endowed with supernatural power

- nonlinear notion of time as a cyclical repetition of the seasons and lives of tribal ancestors who are still alive

Leslie Marmon Silko (b. 1948, tribe Laguna Pueblo)

- her tribe was influenced by the culture of neighbouring tribes and Spanish colonizers

> Ceremony (1977): a well-received novel

> ‘Long Time Ago’: a performance poem in the tradition of songs with many refrains and variations, on the theme of the creation of the world and the history of Indians before and after the arrival of white colonizers

Joy Harjo (b. 1951, tribe Muscogee)

- a poet and performer, author of music for her poetry

- makes use of Indian mysticism, magic realism, and ceremonial song structure

> ‘Deer Dancer’: a narrative poem merging reality and fiction, transforming a poor strip dancer into a mythical hind

> ‘She Had Some Horses’: a ceremonial repetitive song

> ‘Equinox’

Sherman Alexie (b. 1966, tribe Spokane)

- a poet, prose writer, and scriptwriter

- satirizes the contemporary problems of Indians, depression, alcoholism, unemployment, forced assimilation, etc.

- uses irony, cruel humour, plays postmodernist games with the changing meanings of American pop culture icons

> Reservation Blues (1995): his novel

> Smoke Signals: a film version of one of his short stories

> ‘On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City’: satirizes the history of Walden as a site of Transcendentalism in contrast to a much longer history of native Indian culture

> ‘Crazy Horse Speaks’: comments on the legendary Indian chieftain and his victory at Little Big Horn

> ‘Defending Walt Whitman’

> ‘Evolution’

Ray A. Young Bear (b. 1950, tribe Meskwaki)

> ‘A Season of Provocations and Other Ethnic Dreams’

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

    North American Poetry 1945 - 2002.
  • Semestr

    Letní semestr 2008/09.
  • Vyučující

    Jiří Flajšar.
  • Status

    Volitelný seminář pro III. blok.


Flajšar, Jiří. Dějiny americké poezie. Ústí nad Orlicí: Oftis, 2006.

Jařab, Josef. American Poetry and Poets of Four Centuries. Praha: SPN, 1989.

Jařab, Josef, ed. Dítě na skleníku. Praha: Odeon, 1989.


© 2008-2015 Všechna práva vyhrazena.