Synopses & Reviews
For the first time in poetic form, The Cherokee Lottery
treats one of the greatest tragedies in American history, the forced removal of the Southern Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. When gold was discovered on Cherokee land in northern Georgia in 1828, the U.S. Government passed the Removal Act, and 18,000 Cherokees, along with other southern tribes--Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Creeks--were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma territory. Herded along under armed guard, they traveled in bitter cold weather and as many as a quarter died on what became known as "The Trail of Tears."
In powerful poetry of epic proportions, which Harold Bloom has called his best work, Smith paints a stark and vivid picture of this ordeal and its principal participants, among them Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, and Osceola, the Seminole chief.
"William Jay Smith has been one of our best poets for more than sixty years, and The Cherokee Lottery is his masterwork; taut, harrowing, eloquent, and profoundly memorable." --Harold Bloom
"[This] is a powerful collage of occasions having to do with the "removal" of the southern trives to the west, and each glimpse is made striking and poignant by the pen of William Jay Smith. The book tells much that I had not known, and tells it with compelling art." --Richard Wilbur
"[William Jay Smith's] exploration of a shameful episode in American history, in verse moved by irony and humor as well as by tragedy, is a major work by one of our most accomplished poets."--Daniel Hoffman
Poetry. American Indian Studies. William Jay Smith first became interested in the forced removal of the Southern Indians while exploring his family background and Choctaw heritage for his memoir Army Brat, and this research was the inspiration for "The Cherokee Lottery".
About the Author
William Jay Smith (born 22 April 1918) is an American poet. He was appointed the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1968 to 1970.
Table of Contents
Journey to the Interior
The Eagle Warrior: An Invocation
The Cherokee Lottery
The Talking Leaves: Sequoyah's Alphabet
Old Cherokee Woman's Song
The Pumpkin Field
The Buzzard Man
Christmas in Washington with the Choctaw Chief
At the Theater: The Death of Osceola
The Choctaw Stick-Ball Game
Song of the Dispossed
The Buffalo Hunter
Sitting Bull in Serbia
The Burning of Malmaison
The Artist and His Pencil: A Search for the Purebloods
Full Circle: The Connecticut Casino
Acknowledgments and Notes