Poetry Fridays: Linda Hogan

Posted on by Dodge

Martin Farawell, Program Director, Poetry

In her novels, essays, and poems, Linda Hogan often explores the deep connections between how the damage we do to the environment damages us, and how the natural world we wound instructs us on how to heal both it and ourselves.

A descendant of the Chickasaw Nation, she is deeply learned in the traditions of her ancestors. She is equally knowledgeable of the complex social and political history that has shaped the crises of our times. In poems like “The History of Red,” and in novels like Mean Spirit and Power, Hogan explores the interconnections between these two world-views.

What she finds in her search cannot be confused with the diluted renderings of Native American spirituality promulgated in some new-age tomes. Hogan sees a natural world (which includes human creatures) that presents a far greater challenge to our understanding. In her poems, the soldier crawling toward life in a ditch filled with blood is given as close attention as the newborn passing through the birth canal.

Hogan understands that ceremonies are not to be taken lightly, and that the making and sharing of a poem is a kind of ceremony. In these acts, she does not invite us to be victims. On the contrary, she reminds us of what her study of both nature and history has taught her: We must climb or crawl through the fire “in order to live so nothing will be left for death in the end.”

“The History of Red” and “Other, Sister, Twin” can both be found in Linda Hogan’s The Book of Medicines.

Be sure to return for upcoming Poetry Fridays, when we will feature many poets from past Dodge Poetry Festivals in the weeks ahead.

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The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark is October 7 – 10!
For more information, visit the Poetry website.

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