Publication Date
Publication Status
Poetry by individual poets
Trim Size
216 x 140mm

How the Songs Come Down


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.

Praise for this Book

‘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