A Chickasaw mustang and a wild burro live with me. We are three sisters.
I am fortunate enough to have had funding from The Lannan Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was one of three finalists for a Pulitzer when John Updike received it. It was my first novel, MEAN SPIRIT. My other books have all received awards or nominations. PEOPLE OF THE WHALE has been very popular in Taiwan and China, POWER is for both adult and younger audiences. SOLAR STORMS included both the James Bay HydroQuebec project and the subject of adoption in Indian communities. Traveling the world comes with this unexpected life as a writer, from a childhood of depression which lacked privilege enough to go to school. I did, however, become a Professor in Creative Writing and Native Studies. I am now giving readings, lectures, workshops, and just finished a new novel, and loving the unique Chickasaw pony, rare in this world as beautiful poetry.
CLEAVER Magazine Issue #6
DARK. SWEET.: NEW & SELECTED POEMS
by Linda Hogan
Coffee House Press, 421 pages
reviewed by Amanda Hickok
Opening Linda Hogan’s Dark. Sweet. is like coming upon the entrance to a dark cave and striking a match to find the interior covered in Paleolithic paintings. Her imagery is primordial—simple, direct representations of the natural world that recur throughout her poetry to tell and retell the history and oral stories of the Chickasaw, her own personal history, and her concerns for the present. The same images are reused and recast with each poem, accumulating new layers of meaning as her writing progresses from the late ’70s to the present day. The reader is steeped in her distinct personal symbology—a poetic world bursting with animal and plant life, ubiquitous water and sky, fragmented bodies, houses, and cities, and glimpses of tribal communities against the antithetical contemporary American society.
Also like entering a Paleolithic cave, reading Hogan’s poetry is like uncovering a record of a lost world—a world that exists in the memory of the poet, in her personal and cultural history, but also in the cultural history of America and the dark recesses of our collective unconscious. It is a faded and fragmented record the past, the fossilized shell from which our contemporary society has emerged but can neither recover nor completely shed. Hogan’s poetry, though heavily tinged with the despondency of loss, resists the complete annihilation of this continually threatened world in the desire to recover and retain its stories—to keep it alive, if only in the mind, through the preservation of memories. Her poetry attempts to preserve a sense of identity or community when the physical space of those formative places and experiences has been stolen or destroyed and the memories have become increasingly distant…..
This is a poet deeply in love with humanity and the natural world, who projects a hopeful vision of the future—one in which our capacity for empathy and compassion will be recovered, in which we will overcome our fragmented associations with humanity and the world around us in which people and land are merely a means to an end, either useful or disposable in the accumulation of wealth and power. Hogan’s poetry is hopeful that by reconnecting with the whole body, the whole person, the whole earth, it is possible to overcome the pain of homelessness—to become, perhaps, like the turtle. She asks, in the final poem:
How far do we have to go, how far is it
to the holy springs, the first water,
the first bone of our creation,
to compassion for all in that beginning
In our present society—wrought with the alienating affects of capitalism, urbanization, gentrification, and environmental degradation—this is not a question to take lightly.
review from Woman Who Watches
Forecast: Deep and full of grace, Hogan's writing is every bit as good as ever. Anyone who knows anything about Native American writing will rush
Novelist (Mean Spirit) and poet (Seeing Through the Sun) Hogan branches into nonfiction with this slender volume of meditations on the natural world. She successfully couples a poet's appreciation of phrasing and rhythm with Native American sensibilities and stories. Throughout, Hogan exquisitely examines both natural and internal landscapes. She writes beautifully about animals without anthropomorphizing them and, in so doing, explores what it means to be human. Herself a Chickasaw, Hogan is able to bring a diverse cultural perspective to her analysis of how people relate to nature. She concludes, ``We must wonder what of value can ever be spoken from lives that are lived outside of life, without a love or respect for the land and other lives.'' Although 11 of the 16 essays have been previously published, they come together to form an invigorating whole. Author tour. (Aug.)
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
W. W. Norton 08/98 Hardcover $23.00
In her third novel, Linda Hogan honors mystery as a sacred force in the lives of Native Americans. The narrator of this lyrical and enthralling work is Omishto, a sixteen-year-old member of the dwindling Taiga tribe in the Florida wilderness. Although she lives with her Americanized mother, stepfather, and sister, this sensitive and strong-willed young girl spends most of her time with Aunt Ama, a fearless outsider who lives in the woods and is in constant touch with the spirit world.
Omishto is with her during a hurricane that sends deer flying and uproots a five-hundred-year-old tree. Then Aunt Ama in a trance-like state leads her through the woods where she kills a panther, her animal ally and the tribe's sacred ancestor. Omishto, who watches everything and sees deeply into what is going on around her, knows nothing will ever be the same again.
Ama is put on trial for killing an endangered Florida animal and also faces the elders who believe she has broken tribal law. Realizing that she will never see her beloved mentor again, Omishto exiles herself from the white world. She wrestles with Ama's legacy and gives herself to the mystery of the natural world. Linda Hogan's Power presents an incredibly convincing and moving portrait of Native American spirituality.
I worked for the Chickasaw Nation, my own people, writing a booklet on our maps, two performance pieces, visiting and teaching classes, doing historical research and seeing our ancient bodies returned to this earth i love and about which I write.
I love to write poetry, essays, and novels, and also the magical experience of teaching others to do the same. My work is strong on environment and traditional ecosystem knowledge. I am fortunate enough to have had funding from The Lannan Foundation, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was one of three finalists for a Pulitzer when John Updike received it. It was my first novel, MEAN SPIRIT. My other books have all received awards or nominations. PEOPLE OF THE WHALE is most popular in Taiwan, POWER is for adult and younger audiences, as well. SOLAR STORMS included both the James Bay HydroQuebec project and the subject of adoption in Indian communities. Traveling the world comes with this unexpected life as a writer, from a childhood of depression which lacked privilege enough to go to school. I did, however, become a Professor in Creative Writing and Native Studies. I am now giving readings, lectures, workshops writing a new novel, and loving the unique Chickasaw pony, rare in this world as beautiful poetry. I worked for the Chickasaw Nation, my own people, writing a booklet on our maps, two performance pieces, visiting and teaching classes, doing historical research and seeing our ancient bodies returned to this earth i love and about which I write.
The new book, DARK. SWEET. is receiving favorable so far. Thank you, everyone.