Biography (American Ethnic Writers)
Article abstract: Gerald Vizenor is known for his provocative and theoretically sophisticated works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.
An original voice in postmodern literature, Gerald Vizenor is a brilliant novelist, poet, and essayist, as well as an influential critic. He has received the Josephine Miles PEN award for Interior Landscapes, 1990; the Illinois State University/Fiction Collective Prize, 1986; and the American Book Award,1988, for Griever: An American Monkey King in China (1987).
Vizenor, who claims a mixed Native American and European American heritage, belongs to the first generation of his family born off the reservation. When he was a child, his father was murdered, and his mother left him with foster families while she vanished for years at a time. Later, she returned and married an alcoholic who beat him. When he was eighteen, Vizenor escaped into the Army. In the Army, Vizenor traveled to Japan, one of the most important experiences of his life. Views of Mount Fuji, a romance with a Japanese woman, and his first visit to a brothel inspired him to write haiku. After his discharge from the Army, Vizenor stayed in Japan.
Vizenor later returned to the United States to study at New York University and the University of Minnesota, where he discovered writers...
(The entire section is 960 words.)
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Gerald Robert Vizenor, son of Clement William and LaVerne Peterson Vizenor, is a crossblood member of the Chippewa tribe. Vizenor invented the term “crossblood” to refer to American Indians of mixed heritage, and he uses the term frequently in his writing.
Born in Minneapolis, the author had a difficult childhood. His father was murdered when Gerald was less than two years old and his step-father, Elmer Petesch, fell to his death in an elevator shaft one Christmas Eve as the boy, not yet ten, waited for him to come home to celebrate the holiday. His mother had deserted Petesch and her son. The boy, who survived by his wits, did not complete high school, but became the prototypical trickster who appears in much of his writing.
Vizenor attended New York University after completing three years of military service (1952-1955), part of it served in Japan. In the army, he earned his high school equivalency certificate. After one year at New York University, he transferred to the University of Minnesota, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1960. He pursued graduate study there from 1962 until 1965.
In 1959, Vizenor married Judith Helen Horns, an instructor at the University of Minnesota; they were divorced in 1969. They had one son, Robert Thomas. Vizenor married Laura Jane Hall in 1981. Immediately before and during...
(The entire section is 709 words.)
Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
On October 22, 1934, Gerald Robert Vizenor was born to La Verne Peterson Vizenor and Clement Vizenor, who was murdered twenty months later. Thereafter, Gerald was reared partly by his father’s Anishinaabe relatives. At age fifteen, he joined the National Guard and at eighteen the U.S. Army—an experience he found intellectually stimulating, particularly during his station in Japan. In 1955, at the end of his enlistment, he entered New York University, then transferred in 1956 to the University of Minnesota. He married Judith Horns in 1959 and graduated the year his son Robert was born in 1960. He began graduate work until his writings as social worker and activist won him a position as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune (19681969). From 1970 to 1971, he taught at Lake Forest College in Illinois; from 1971 to 1972, he directed the Indian Studies Program at Bemidji State University, Minnesota; in 1973, he attended Harvard University; and in 1974, he joined the Tribune’s editorial staff. His career continued in a similarly nomadic fashion. Particularly notable was his time spent teaching at Tianjin University in China, which inspired the writing of Griever. He was divorced in 1969 and remained single until his marriage to Laura Hall in 1981.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Gerald Vizenor is often recognized as the most innovative writer of Native American fiction ever to put pen to paper. Born to Clement William Vizenor and LaVerne Lydia Peterson Vizenor, he was raised in Minneapolis from the age of two primarily by his father’s family (originally from the White Earth Reservation), following the unsolved murder of his father. After weathering a less than ideal childhood, tempered by Anishinabe trickster tales, Vizenor joined the National Guard at fifteen and the Army at eighteen.
Stationed in Japan for several important formative years, he returned to civilian life in 1955 and began college at New York University. He transferred to the University of Minnesota the next year, where he earned a B.A. in 1960. In 1959 he married Judith Horns, with whom he had a son, Robert Vizenor; in 1969, they were divorced. He married Laura Hall in 1981. During the early 1960’s Vizenor first began to write about the problems faced by city-dwelling Native Americans. His inside perspective as a social worker, his community activism and journalism, and his report on the trial of Thomas James White Hawk eventually led him to work as a Minneapolis Tribune reporter. He moved north temporarily to direct the Indian Studies Program at Bemidji State University in 1971-1972 and studied at Harvard University in 1973 before returning to the...
(The entire section is 689 words.)