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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

REVARD, CARTER (1931– ).

Carter Revard, by most accounts the most significant American Indian poet from Oklahoma, was born on March 25, 1931, in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to McGuire Revard, a mixed-blood Osage, and Thelma Louise Camp Revard, a white woman, along with his twin sister, Maxine. He grew up in Buck Creek, a rural community twenty miles east of Pawhuska. Revard never knew his biological father, who left the family when Revard and his sister were infants. His mother soon afterward married Addison Jump, a full-blood Osage. Revard went to a one-room rural school, and during his senior year he and his sister worked as the school's janitors.

Revard received a bachelor's degree from the University of Tulsa, a master's degree as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, and a doctorate from Yale University. While a college student, he was formally given his Osage name (Nom-peh-wah-the, "Fear-inspiring") in a home-community ceremony. After accepting a professorship at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1961, he taught medieval literature and, later on, American Indian literature, until his retirement in 1997. He continues to reside in St. Louis.

Revard's poetry is filled with his knowledge of Osage and Ponca traditions and wedded with his deep understanding of medieval European poetical literatures. His first two collections of poetry, My Right Hand Don't Leave Me No More (1970) and Nonymosity (1980), exhibit little of his Indian heritage and milieu, but his third collection, Ponca War Dancers (1980), does so and has become a minor classic in contemporary American Indian poetry. His later poetry collections, Cowboys and Indians, Christmas Shopping (1992), An Eagle Nation (1993), How the Songs Come Down (2005), and From an Extinct Volcano, A Bird of Paradise (2014), continue his exploration of his Indian heritage.

Two prose works, Family Matters, Tribal Affairs (1998) and Winning the Dust Bowl (2001), a collection of essays and an autobiography, respectively, amplify his poetry exceedingly well. In both books Revard blends modern-day Osage-Ponca culture with his scholarship in medieval European literatures.

In 2005 Carter Revard received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.

Geary Hobson


Ellen L. Arnold, ed., The Salt Companion to Carter Revard (Cambridge, U.K.: Salt Publishing, 2007).

Brian K. Hudson, "Foreward," From an Extinct Volcano, A Bird of Paradise (Norman, Okla.: Mongrel Empire Press, 2014).

Janet McAdams, "Carter Revard's Angled Mirrors," Speak to Me Words: Essays in Contemporary American Indian Poetry, ed. Dean Rader and Janice Gould (Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 2003); Carter Revard, Winning the Dust Bowl (Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, 2001).

Special Issue on Carter Revard, Studies in American Indian Literatures, Series 2, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2003 (East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University).

Norma C. Wilson, The Nature of Native American Poetry (Albuquerque, N. Mex.: University of New Mexico Press, 2001).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Geary Hobson, “Revard, Carter,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=RE040.

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