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Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  25 reviews
" Winner of the 35th Annual Lillian Smith Book Award, 2004 A BookSense 76 Spring 2004 Top 10 Poetry Book! Read an excerpt from the book Listen to Frank X Walker reading on NPR's ""This I Believe"" segment of Morning Edition. This collection of persona poems tells the story of the infamous Lewis & Clark expedition from the point of view of Clark's personal slave, York. The ...more
Paperback, 71 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by University Press of Kentucky (first published January 1st 2004)
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Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
York was the slave William Clark took with him on the Lewis and Clark expedition. He carried, cooked, scouted, and he saved the expedition on several occasions from hostile natives who proved fascinated by the black "bear-man." York couldn't read or write, so what we know of him largely comes from the journals kept by Lewis and Clark and other white members of the expedition. He is also depicted in paintings serving to commemorate the event.
In this poetic journal, Frank X. Walker gives voice to
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-poetry
William Clark took his slave York along when he and Meriwether Lewis traveled across the Louisiana Purchase to the Pacific Ocean. Frank X. Walker brings York to life here in these poems told in the first person. It's clear that York performed a valuable service as an explorer along with the rest of the men, and he was even allowed to cast a vote on the location of one of their winter forts just like any of the others in the expedition. So I was dismayed to learn that Clark treated him so poorly ...more
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The sculptor Ed Hamilton gave York a face and a body. Now Frank X. Walker gives York a voice. This collection of poetry is very creative and imaginative. Before all we knew about York was in the journals of Lewis and Clark, but Walker lets York speak by a leap of imagination and empathy. This is a brilliant work.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-2016
Luis Alberto Urrea, in his keynote lecture for The Big Read last fall, recommended in an offhand way Frank X. Walker as an author and Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York as a book that had been influential for him. Never one to turn down a recommendation, I whipped out my phone and used Suggest an Item to place a hold (the WPL didn't own it at the time) right there in the auditorium while Urrea was still talking.

Buffalo Dance is the fictionalized experience of York, William Clark's slave, told th
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When this book is over it will not be enough. You'll have to keep reading, so be sure and have When Winter Comes. I read them both in the airport and I didn't move and was highlighting, using sticky notes, etc. on just about every page. York was the "body slave" for Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Frank X Walker uses historical books and letters written by Lewis and Clark to piece this man's life together. I'm not doing it justice but just read these books.
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular. Will teach alongside Huck Finn this year.
Elizabeth Rogers
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Quick, enjoyable read. Frank X. Walker is the best!
George Jensen
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
really fucking excellent. especially loved the created explanation of the actual clark journals.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Thoughtful. Provoking. Should be a part of the American Literature curriculum.
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Surprisingly refreshing, in that the life of the slave York, forever in the shadow to his Master William Clark, is told through his own eyes, without resraint, as if making up for the time when African Americans living in the United States were beaten and killed for aquiring the much needed skills and art forms of reading and writing. A very different perspective of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, currently celebrating its bicentennial in towns across the country; an important examination of the ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't read a lot of poetry, and don't really feel qualified to talk about the merit of poems, but I do know a good story when I read one. In my experience, rare is the poem that also can tell a story. These do that, times ten. I learned so much from these poems, not just in the figurative way, but literally about history and the slave experience on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I highly recommend this collection. I'll be meeting Frank Walker in September; I only hope that he doesn't find me ...more
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
p.17 My blackness was greeted with great respect/ an the chil'ren followed me so close they/ become a part a my shadow.
p.29 As I stop to rest an laugh, it come to me/ that every soft an pretty thing God make/ got a hand an ugly to carry with it.

An intriguing collection of poems. The voice of the material is the most interesting aspect of the work. Poems are presented from a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. York, the slave of Captain Clark, narrates his personal journey. Poems are presen
T.L. Cooper
Aug 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York is a book of poetry written from the point of view of York, William Clark's servant, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean spanning 1803-1806. Walker researched his subject quite indepth and wrote a series of poetry to tell teh story from York's point of view. Walker handles the subject matter with integrity, honor, and honesty. Buffalo Dance is a fascinating and well paced story written as beautiful, touching po ...more
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it
book of poems by KY author about Lewis & Clark expedition from the point of view of Clark’s slave, York—generally quite depressing overall. Interesting juxtaposition from the slave’s perspective about how the American Indian’s are treated as badly as the slave. An EKU English professor who goes to Union Church has this as required reading; via Berea Library, 2004 hardback, 70 pgs., read Apr. ‘13/#21. ...more
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I think poems are meant to be heard, and Frank X. Walker took a crowd of English teachers on a journey across the country with Lewis & Clark but from the perspective of Clark's slave, York. The poems stayed vivid when I read the whole book in the Louisville airport. I intended to savor the poems one at a time on the metro, but I couldn't -- Buffalo Dance pulled me along with the story and the alive words of poetry.

Jan 16, 2009 added it
Shelves: poetry
How would York, "manservant" and slave to Clark on the Lewis & Clark Expedition, have viewed the experience? More importantly to this book: how would he have been viewed by the Native Americans they encountered, by the white men while away from social norms, and by himself upon return? The poems of this book grow in power, and the increased use of epigraph in the second half of the book create an interesting conversation between history and unwritten (until now) experience. ...more
May 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
I couldn't get into "Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York" by Frank X. Walker which surprised me since I really adore one of his other poetry collections. The poems for this collection fell flat and didn't pack much of a punch. I was never able to really engage with York and never really felt invested in his story. I would say read Frank X. Walker, but perhaps start with a different collection.
York's voice through walker is flawless. What could be a scathing account of slave treatment becomes more of a philosophical journal of nature, man and the wider world. Absolutely fantastic through and through.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I checked this out, loved it. Frank does a wonderful job of speaking poetically through the voice of York, the personal slave of William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Team. Frank takes us on the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the eyes of York.
Maughn Gregory
Ingenious collection of poems giving voice to William Clark's slave York, who accompanied Clark and Lewis on their expedition, doing much more of the work with much less of the scant comforts, and who was not only not thanked or recognized, but demoralized when it was over.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Love the way Walker envisions York's voice out of plain language and beautiful turns of phrase.
Jennifer James
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book of poems traces the Lewis and Clark expedition from the viewpoint of York, an African-American slave who was part of the expedition. The poems are beautiful and moving and very accessible.
Erin Chandler
Jan 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful journey...
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Again, my favorite style of poetry collection. This was really great for thinking about Native/Black intersections and it recovers a narrative for an all-but erased historical figure.
Rodney Wolfenbarger
rated it it was ok
Feb 23, 2013
Val  Kurz
rated it really liked it
Feb 05, 2014
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Jan 02, 2014
rated it it was amazing
Nov 09, 2019
Jude Roy
rated it it was amazing
Nov 04, 2016
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