Carter Revard

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Carter Revard
Born (1931-03-25) March 25, 1931 (age 83)
Pawhuska, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
Occupation Poet, linguist, medievalist
Literary movement Native American Literature, Free verse
Notable works How the Songs Come Down
Website
www.hanksville.org/storytellers/revard/

Carter Curtis Revard (born March 25, 1931[1]) (Osage) is an American poet, scholar, and writer. He is Osage and French Canadian on his father's side and also has European-American ancestry; he grew up on the tribal reservation in Oklahoma.[2] He had early education in a one-room schoolhouse, and won a scholarship for college, attending University of Tulsa for his BA.

His Osage name, Nom-Peh-Wah-The (Nompehwahthe), was given to him in 1952 by his paternal grandmother Josephine Jump.[2] That year, he won a Rhodes Scholarship for graduate work at Oxford University. After completing a PhD at Yale University, Revard had most of his academic career at Washington University at St. Louis, where he specialized in medieval British literature and linguistics.

Since 1980, Revard has become notable as a Native American poet and writer, and has published several books, as well as numerous articles about the literature. He has received numerous awards for this work.

Early life and education[edit]

Revard was born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma,[1] a town within the Osage Indian Reservation.[2] He grew up in the Buck Creek Valley about 20 miles east, where he and his twin sister were among seven siblings. They were of Osage, Ponca people, French,[3] Irish, and Scotch-Irish heritage.[4] The children were taught up to the eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse on the Osage reservation. He learned some Osage and Ponca, which are related languages. Revard and his classmates combined schoolwork with farming tasks and odd jobs; Revard also helped train greyhounds for racing. He went to Bartlesville College High;[2] Revard credits his teachers with inspiring his interest in literature and science.

Winning a radio quiz scholarship, Revard attended the University of Tulsa, where he earned a BA. He was mentored by Professor Franklin Eikenberry, who supported him in applying for a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University, where Revard gained another BA.[2] After returning to the United States, he was encouraged by Eikenberry to do further graduate work. Revard earned a PhD in English at Yale University in 1959.[2]

Academic career[edit]

Revard first taught at Amherst College. Beginning in 1961, he started teaching at Washington University in St. Louis, where he had his academic career. The traditional territory of the Osage was in the Missouri region before they were removed to a reservation.

Revard's major scholarly focus throughout his career has been on medieval British manuscripts, and their social context. He is a respected voice in this field. He developed classes in language development for study by high school teachers, to engage them in the tremendous work in language that their adolescent students are engaged in.[1] Revard has also published scholarly work on linguistics (specifically on the transition between Middle English and later forms of the language).

In 1967, Revard worked on a project in California funded by the military, which related to putting a large dictionary of the English language into computer accessible form, and developing programs to access it; he participated as a "semanticist linguist." It was related to computerizing Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. In August 1968 he gave a paper on this work in Las Vegas, Nevada to the Association for Computational Machinery. He also gave a paper on this work to the New York Academy of Science, which had a "section on lexicography and with the special section on computers", and later published these.[1]

In 1971-1972, Revard went to England on a sabbatical, where he tried to do medieval research at Oxford during a period of student unrest and disruption that damaged important library resources. During this period, he also started writing poems, which were collected in his first book of poetry published in 1980. He started to publish them in magazines and chapbooks before that.[1] Revard has also been a visiting professor at the universities of Tulsa and the Oklahoma.

In addition, he has published several critical articles about Native American literature, assessing it and placing it in the context of American literatures.

Creative writings[edit]

Revard has also written poetry, essays and memoirs. In 1980 he published his first collection, Ponca War Dances, revealing himself as a new, strongly political voice among Native American poets.

An excerpt from "Discovery of the New World":

The creatures that we met this morning
marveled at our green skins
and scarlet eyes.
They lack antennae
and can't be made to grasp
your lawful proclamation that they are
our lawful food and prey and slaves
nor can they seem to learn
their body-space is needed to materialize
our oxygen absorbers —
which they conceive are breathing
and thinking creatures whom they implore
at first as angels or (later) as devils
when they are being snuffed out
by an absorber swelling
into their space. . . .
We need their space and oxygen
which they do not know how to use,
yet they will not give up their gas unforced,
and we feel sure,
whatever our "agreements" made this morning,
we'll have to cook them all:
the more we cook this orbit,
the fewer next time around.

Revard has published several books, the best known of which is probably An Eagle Nation (1997). In most of his works, he interweaves poetry, autobiographical essays, and short, sometimes allegorical stories. His poems have also appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and his work has been translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Stella, a scholar of Milton. They have three children: Jeffrey, Steven and Vanessa.

Awards and professional recognition[edit]

  • 2007 - American Indian Festival of Words Author Award
  • 2005 - Lifetime Achievement Award, Native Writers' Circle of the Americas
  • 2002 - Finalist, Oklahoma Book Award, Nonfiction category, for Winning the Dust Bowl
  • 2000 - Writer of the Year, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers
  • 1994 - Oklahoma Book Award, Poetry category, for Cowboys and Indians Christmas Shopping
  • The Spring 2003 issue of the journal, Studies in American Indian Literatures (SAIL) was entirely devoted to discussions of Revard's work; it also included pieces by him.

Carter Revard is a member of the Modern Language Association (MLA), the Association for Studies in American Indian Literature, the River Styx Literary Organization, the Association of American Rhodes Scholars, the University of Tulsa Board of Visitors, the St. Louis Gourd Dancers and Phi Beta Kappa.[citation needed]

He has served the American Indian Center of St. Louis as board member, Secretary and President.

Books by Carter Revard[edit]

  • How the Songs Come Down, Salt Publications (2005), poetry
  • Winning the Dust Bowl, University of Arizona Press (2001), autobiography
  • Family Matters, Tribal Affairs, University of Arizona Press (1999), autobiography
  • An Eagle Nation, University of Arizona Press (1997) poetry
  • Cowboys and Indians Christmas Shopping, Point Riders Press (1992), poetry
  • Ponca War Dancers, Point Riders Press (1980), poetry

Books about Carter Revard[edit]

  • The Salt Companion to Carter Revard, Ellen L. Arnold (Ed.) [1]

Further reading[edit]

Revard is collected in and/or the subject of essays in the following works:

  • Joseph Bruchac III (editor), Nuke Chronicles, New York: Contract II Publications, 1980.
  • Joseph Bruchac III (editor), Survival This Way: Interviews With American Indian Poets, (Sun Tracks Books, No 15), University of Arizona Press, 1990
  • Janice Gould and Dean Rader (editors), Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry, University of Arizona Press, 2003
  • John L. Purdy and James Ruppert (editors), Nothing But the Truth: An Anthology of Native American Literature, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall Publishing, 2001
  • Brian Swann, Arnold Krupat (editors), I Tell You Now: Autobiographical Essays by Native American Writers, Brompton Books Corporation, 1989
  • Norma C. Wilson, The Nature of Native American Poetry, University of New Mexico Press, 2001
  • Norma C. Wilson, The Spirit of Place in Contemporary American Indian Poetry, University of Oklahoma, 1978

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Transcript of Interview with Megan Brown, American Lives, Washington University at St. Louis, 16 April 2001
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Carter Revard", Storytellers: Native American Authors Online, 1997, accessed 31 March 2014
  3. ^ "American Indian Carter Revard discussed his poems with students in Berlin", US Embassy in Germany, 10 November 2006
  4. ^ "Carter Revard", Poetry Foundation, 2014, accessed 31 March 2014

External links[edit]