English, Department of


Date of this Version

June 2000


Published in Loosening the Seams: Interpretations of Gerald Vizenor, edited by A. Robert Lee. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2000. Pages 203–224. Copyright © 2000 Bowling Green State University Popular Press.


Poems on a page bear a decidedly, yet deceptively, fixed being. The Western literary tradition (if I may invoke such a creature) has historically preferred fixed texts. Even when confronting slippery oral traditions, an enormous effort has been expended to canonize an originary Ur-form of each tale. Such a tendency, akin to mounting a bird species rather than pondering the flight of feathers, is the antagonist of Vizenor's poetic art. In what follows I seek to explore some of the ways Vizenor's haiku and longer poetry melt fixation and celebrate the transformative possibilities of impermanence.