American Indian Poetry at the Dawn of Modernism

Robert Dale Parker

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398779
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 American Indian Poetry at the Dawn of Modernism

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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Scholars and readers of American poetry in general and American Indian poetry in particular generally assume that American Indian poetry begins in the late 1960s with the American Indian Renaissance. Even among scholars of American Indian literature, let alone scholars of American poetry in general, few readers can name more than, at most, a few American Indian poets before N. Scott Momaday. But indigenous people in what is now the United States have written poetry since the time of Anne Bradstreet, and the 1890s and the early twentieth century brought an effusion of Indian-written poetry. Poems by more than ninety different American Indians writing from 1900 to 1930 have been found. The anthology Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930 showcases the work of eighty-three poets and provides a bibliography that lists almost 150 Indian poets up to 1930. While Indian poets wrote about the same range of topics as non-Indian poets, they also brought their interests and experiences as Indians to bear on their poems. This article discusses how these poems address colonialism and the federal government, land, the condition of the world in general, nature, Christianity, love, war, other Indian peoples, and the temptation to internalize anti-Indian ways of thinking.

Keywords: American Indian poetry; Native American poetry; indigenous peoples; poets

Article.  10516 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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