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How the Songs Come Down,

Carter Revard

How the Songs Come Down, Carter Revard


Publication Date: 01-Apr-05 | ISBN: 1844710645 | Trim Size: 216 x 140 mm | Extent: 176pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Grantham Book Services | Publishing Status: Active Shop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




Revard’s poems are more like those of Seamus Heaney than those of Paul Muldoon – more like Robert Frost than Wallace Stevens, more like Mark Twain than Henry James. They are true stories, some from time on the Osage Reservation during Dust Bowl days, some from the Isle of Skye in Hippie Time, others from Creation Time in Las Vegas with Trickster, at the Hotel Empire in Manhattan with Dante, under dragons flying over St. Louis, dodging bullets while stealing watermelons, listening to humpbacked whales and wine-throated hummingbirds in Bellagio, parading with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to publicize some powwow in the old Indian-fighter headquarters at Jefferson Barracks on the Mississippi, sitting with Ponca cousins in a bar and hoping not to get shot after the occupation of Wounded Knee. The reason for every poem in this marvellous selection is to invite readers into its personal, familial, communal space to feast with the Ponca people and Revard on whatever they have on the table. These poems are all for having some kind of good time together, and the more the merrier.


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Indian Territory; Coyote Tells Why He Sings; Geode; Stone Age; Skins as Old Testament; Dancing with Dinosaurs; Driving in Oklahoma; What the Eagle Fan Says; Birch Canoe; In Chigger Heaven; Close Encounters; Wazhazhe Grandmother; Ponca War Dancers; Over by Fairfax, Leaving Tracks; Getting Across; Pure Country; Cowboys and Indians; Communing Before Supermarkets; An Eagle Nation; Dragon-watching in St Louis; That Lightning’s Hard to Climb; And Don’t Be Deaf to the Singing Beyond; Looking Before and After; Aunt Jewell as Powwow Princess; When Earth Brings; In the Suburbs; A Mandala of Sorts; In the Changing Light; Outside in St. Louis; What the Poet’s Cottage in Tucson Said ; How the Songs Come Down; Making Money; Transactions; Earth and Diamonds; Amber and Lightning; Snowflakes, Waterdrops, Time, Eternity and So On; Unzipping Angels; Christmas Shopping; Given; Liquid Crystal Thoughts; Sea-changes, Easter 1990; Law and Order; Discovery of the New World; November in Washington, D.C.; History into Words; Another Sunday Morning; Parading with the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Coming of Age in the County Jail; Free White and Fifteen; Firewater; A Response to Terrorists; Hamlet and Fortinbras Exchange Pleasantries; The Biograbbers; Support your Local Police Dog; Criminals as Creators of Capital; Chimes at Midnight; The Secret Verbs; On the Planet of Blue-eyed Cats; A Song That We Still Sing; Starring America; 1. To The Eastern Shores of Light; 2. New York, With Reservations; 3. On The Reservation; Over There; Advice from Euterpe; Jetliner from Angel City; Where the Muses Haunt; The Swan’s Song; Pilotless Angel: Christmas, 2004; Letter to Friends on the Isle of Skye; Postcolonial Hyperbaggage; Columbus Looks Out Far, In Deep; But Still in Israel’s Paths They Shine; Songs of the Wine-throated Hummingbird


“Among contemporary American poets, Carter Revard is a giant, a rare and unique writer profoundly at home in Osage tribal history and culture, in traditional English poetry, and in the urban landscape of his own country. How the Songs Come Down seems an essential book for any poetry shelf, a richly regaling trove of astonishing lyric insights and unforgettable stories.” —X.J. Kennedy


“I haven’t read all of How the Songs Come Down yet but I can say right now that what I’ve read is like talking and listening to Carter Revard face to face. Smiling big and nodding and laughing at the funny stuff, and frowning, too, at the hard parts. It’s fine, fine poetry, of course, but they’re stories too, you know, because we share them, and we learn from them for they sustain us and our land, culture, and community.” —Simon J. Ortiz


How the Songs Come Down is a rich offering from a rich and fertile mind. Carter Revard demonstrates again that he is among the truly gifted poets writing today. The scope and variety of this work are exceptional, and the spirit of the whole is uniquely native and American. Here is something to place among the keepsakes of our literary heritage.” —Scott Momaday



Carter RevardCarter Revard, Osage on his father’s side, grew up on the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma. After work as farm hand and greyhound trainer, he took B.A.s from the University of Tulsa and Oxford (Rhodes Scholarship, Oklahoma and Merton 1952), was given his Osage name and a Yale Ph.D., then taught medieval and American Indian literatures before retiring in 1997. He has published Ponca War Dancers; Cowboys and Indians, Christmas Shopping; An Eagle Nation; Family Matters, Tribal Affairs; and Winning the Dust Bowl.

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