Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition
With Vizenor's work spanning over a thirty-year period from 1962 to the present, naturally his writing admits many variants in genre, style, purpose, and quality. He has given his voice to poetry, journalism, short and long fiction, "reexpressions" of traditional works, genealogy, autobiography, editorials, essays, literary journalism, screenplays, and to what he calls "narrative histories." In addition, since Vizenor is widely read in history, literature, critical theory, and the social sciences, the influences on his writing are multiple....
My purpose, however, is not to catalogue or catagorize Vizenor's work or method. Instead, I look at Vizenor's ideas about language, written and performed, try to understand his own view of his vocation as a tribal storyteller-cum-writer, explore the manifestations of the tension between the oral and written in his work, and shed some light on his place in the expanding canons of Native American, American, and world literature. I look both at his philosophy and his work to discover if indeed he has found a way to write in the oral tradition of the Ojibway.
From Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition (1996)
Used with permission of the author.