Changing Is Not Vanishing: A Collection of American Indian Poetry to 1930

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Media Reviews

CHANGING IS NOT VANISHINGEdited by Robert Dale Parker
University of Pennsylvania Press (2011)

Review by Ryan Winn

Through extensive archival research in small-circulation newspapers and magazines, manuscripts, pamphlets, rare books, and scrapbooks, Robert Dale Parker has uncovered and published poems by 82 poets whose collective work is largely unknown.

These poems, which he gathered together in Changing Is Not Vanishing, address colonialism and the federal government, land, politics, nature, love, war, Christianity, and racism. Moreover, they help to shatter the stereotype that casts 19th- and early 20th-century American Indians as illiterate.

Revisionist tendencies aside, the poems themselves reveal a variety of poetic approaches and contain glimpses into experiences of the life and politics of American Indian poetry’s ancestors.

Among my favorite pieces are Carlos Montezuma’s poem—which is the namesake for the collection—about American Indian adaption and survival, and Elise Fuller’s “A New Citizen,” which seems to be a sarcastic response to the Dawes Act and American citizenship. In short, Changing Is Not Vanishing gives scholars reason to reconsider the origins of post-colonial American Indian poetry.

Ryan Winn is the Humanities Department chair at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena and Green Bay, WI.

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