Cheryl Savageau

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Cheryl Savageau (born April 14, 1950) is a writer and poet of Abenaki descent. Her father, Paul Savageau is French/Abenaki, her mother, Cecile Meunier Savageau, is French-Canadian.


Savageau is of Abenaki and French descent.[1] She was born at Hahnemann Hospital in Worcester, Mass. She is the oldest of six children. Savageau grew up in the Edgemere section of Shrewsbury, Mass., an island neighborhood on Lake Quinsigamond. Her sense of place is seen in her poetry. Her father died in 1986. Her mother died in 2001.


Savageau attended Calvin Coolidge School and Shrewsbury Jr-Sr High School in Shrewsbury, Mass., and graduated from Marian High School in Worcester, Mass. in 1968. She earned her BS in English and Philosophy from Clark University in 1978, and has her Master's and is ABD in English from University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Savageau's apprenticeship as a poet was with the Worcester Free Peoples Poets and Artists Workshop, started by the poet Etheridge Knight. Outside of academia, the Free Peoples Workshop met in Circe's Bar off the common in Worcester, Mass., and included poets Christopher Gilbert, John Hodgen, and David Williams.

Savageau worked briefly as a biology teacher in the early 1980s in central Massachusetts. From the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, she taught poetry in schools throughout Massachusetts through the Massachusetts Artist in Residence program. She has taught creative writing at Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, University of New Mexico, and in the Goddard College MFA program. She is a facilitator in the Osher Life Long Learning Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston,[2] where she teaches courses in creative writing (poetry and memoir,) storytelling, Native American literature, and Native American Traditional Ecological Knowledge.


Savageau was awarded a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993, and from the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Program 1990. She held three residencies at the MacDowell Colony. Her second book, Dirt Road Home, was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize (1996,) and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.[3]

Her children's book, Muskrat Will Be Swimming, was a Smithsonian Notable Book (1996), won the Skipping Stones Award for children's Environmental Books (1997), and the Best Children's Book Award (1997), from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

For her work mentoring young and beginning writers, she was awarded Mentor of the Year from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers (1998).

Also a visual artist, she has exhibited her quilts,[4] paintings and other works[5] at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, the University of New Hampshire, and elsewhere.



  • Home Country. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books. 1992. ISBN 9780914086949.
  • Dirt Road Home. Willimantic, Conn.: Curbstone Press. 1995. ISBN 9781880684306.
  • Mother/Land. London: Salt Publishing. 2006. ISBN 9781844712694.[6]

Children's books[edit]

Muskrat Will Be Swimming. Rising Moon. 1996. ISBN 9780873586047.

Anthology contributions[edit]

  • Melissa Tuckey, ed. (2018). Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820353159.
  • Dawnland Voices. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press. 2014. ISBN 9780803246867.
  • Sovereign Erotics. Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice, Deborah Miranda, and Lisa Tatonetti, eds. University of Arizona Press, 2011.
  • Living in Storms. Tom Schram, ed. Eastern University Press, 2008.
  • French Connections: A Gathering of Franco-American Poets. Christine Gelineau, ed. Louisiana Literature Press, 2007.
  • New Directions Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking. Peter S. Gardner,ed. Cambridge University Press, New York, 2005.
  • Approaching Literature in the 21st Century. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl, eds. Bedford/St. Martin's Press, Boston. 2005.
  • Connections: Reading and Writing in Cultural Contexts. Judith A. Stanford, ed. Rivier College, Mayfield Publishing, Calif. 2001.
  • My Home As I Remember It. Native Women in the Arts Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1999.
  • The Eye of the Deer. Carolyn Dunn Anderson and Carol Comfort, eds. Aunt Lute Books, 1999.
  • Poetry Nation. Regie Cabico and Todd Swift, eds. Véhicule Press, Montréal, Canada, 1999.
  • Identity Lessons: Learning American Style. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, eds. Viking Penguin, 1999.
  • Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses. Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl, eds. St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • Through the Kitchen Window. Arlene Arvakian, ed. University of Massachusetts, Spring, 1997.
  • Durable Breath. John E. Smelcer and D.L. Birchfield, eds. Salmon Run Press, 1994.
  • Two Worlds Walking. Diane Glancy and C.W. Truesdale, eds. New Rivers Press, 1994.
  • Returning the Gift. Joseph Bruchac, ed. Greenfield Review Press, 1994.
  • Poetry Like Bread Martín Espada, ed. Curbstone Press, 1994.
  • An Ear to the Ground. Marie Harris and Kathleen Aguero, eds. University of Georgia Press, 1989.

Poetry from Sojourner: A Feminist Anthology. Ruth Lepson, ed. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois. 2004 Sunken Garden Poetry. Brad Davis, ed. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Ct. 2012


Her work has appeared in AGNI,[7] The Boston Review, The Indiana Review, River Styx, The Paterson Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, Gatherings, Pentimento, Yellow Medicine Review, Hinchas de Poesia et al.


Dawnland Voices 2.0 2016–

Alice James Books, 1992–1994

The Worcester Review, 1984


Traditional Storyteller – 1987–present

Oak and Stone Storytellers – Savageau was a founding member of this women's storytelling group who told stories in concert to adults as well as to children in schools and libraries.

Visual Arts[edit]

Savageau is also a textile artist. Her work often springs from the same impulse/inspiration as her poetry.


University of New Hampshire, Durham 2010 "Invisible-Visible". Two pieces, "Sky Turtle",(acrylic) and "Sky Woman" (assemblage.)

Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, Maine. "Twisted Paths" exhibit, December 2008 – January 2010. "Jazz Autumn" (quilt/wall hanging); "Circle of Roses", (quilt); "Leaf Falling Moon", (quilt/wall hanging); "The Illusion of Ownership", (quilt/wall hanging); "Sky Turtle" (acrylic); "Corn Woman", (assemblage); "Into Green", (watercolor).

University of New Hampshire, Durham, 2007. "Jazz Autumn: (quilt/wall hanging"; and "The Illusion of Ownership, (quilt/wall hanging.)

University of New Hampshire, Durham, 2006. Trunk show, quilts and other textile art and poetry reading.

Antioch College, 2006, reading and quilt presentation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Senier, Siobhan. Dawnland Voices. University of Nebraska Press. p. 313. ISBN 9780803246867.
  2. ^ "Osher Lifelong Learning Institute". University of Massachusetts Boston. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  3. ^ "Faculty and Staff: Cheryl Savageau". Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. University of Massachusetts Boston. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Cheryl Savageau". "We're Still Here": Contemporary Indigenous New England Artists. University of New Hampshire. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Cheryl Savageau". "Invisible/Visible": Emerging Contemporary New England Native American Art. University of New Hampshire. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  6. ^ "'All This / Is Abenaki Country': Cheryl Savageau's Poetic Awikhiganak". Studies in American Indian Literatures. 3. 22: 1–25. Fall 2010. doi:10.1353/ail.2010.0013. Retrieved 16 March 2013. Savageau's newest book, Mother/Land, appeared in 2006 in Salt Publishing's Earthworks series, edited by Janet McAdams; this will put her even more visibly in the company of such esteemed poets as Carter Revard, Diane Glancy, and Heid Erdrich.
  7. ^ "Cheryl Savageau". 6/2010. AGNI. Retrieved 16 March 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cluff, Michael (Fall 1995). "Review of Dirt Road Home". Studies in American Indian Literatures. 7 (3): 83–86.
  • Parker, Robert Dale (Summer 2010). "A Review Essay on Recent American Indian Poetry". Studies in American Indian Literatures. 22 (2): 75–85.
  • Senier, Siobhan (Fall 2010). 'All This/Is Abenaki Country': Cheryl Savageau's Poetic Awikhiganak. Studies In American Indian Literatures. 22. pp. 1–25.

External links[edit]