Gerald Vizenor Biography
(1934– ), Raising the Moon Vines: Original Haiku in English, Seventeen Chirps: Haiku in English
American writer of mixed French and Chippewa descent, born in Minneapolis, educated at the University of Minnesota; he became Professor of Literature and American Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Vizenor's work is concerned with the social, psychological, and spiritual difficulties experienced by Americans of mixed blood. Among his volumes of poetry are Raising the Moon Vines: Original Haiku in English (1964), Seventeen Chirps: Haiku in English (1964), and Matsushima: Pine Islands (1984). He achieved critical acclaim with his second novel, Griever: An American Monkey King in China (1987), in which the trickster figure of tribal stories, who appears throughout Vizenor's writing, is presented in Chinese guise as the Monkey King. The trickster god provides the model for liberation for the hero, a mixed-blood Indian teaching in China, who finally triumphs over Chinese bureaucracy. The quest for ritual knowledge also provides a structuring principle in Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart (1978; retitled Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles, 1990) and Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage (1988). A later novel is Heirs of Columbus (1991). The interweaving of white and tribal motifs, which characterizes Vizenor's fiction, is matched by the mixing of fictional with historical elements in volumes such as Earthdivers: Tribal Narratives on Mixed Descent (1981) and Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies (1976, expanded 1990). Other non-fiction works include The Everlasting Sky: New Voices from the People Named the Chippewa (1972) and Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors (1990). See also Native American Literature.