American Indian tradition of storytelling and myth-weaving, Linda Hogan's writings reflect the traditional, indigenous respect for and affiliation with animals, land, and plants. Hogan, a novelist and essayist as well as poet, is a contemporary voice of American Indian concerns. Hogan is deeply rooted in the natural world; the health of the environment is her main interest, and her poetry focuses on issues ranging from endangered species and wildlife rehabilitation to nuclear testing. She also explores science, spirituality, ritual, and genocide with a decidedly feminist, matriarchal voice (see female voice, female language). Her poetry is significant in that it joins such voices as Louise Erdrich's and Leslie Marmon silko's in bringing the noteworthy concerns of a traditionally oral and underrepresented culture into mainstream verse.
Born in Colorado, Hogan grew up in oklahoma and Colorado. From a military family, she moved around and did not grow up within the Chickasaw Indian community so important to her work. The first in her family to attend college, she also received an M.A. at the University of Colorado in 1978. Her poetry includes Calling Myself Home (1979), Daughters, I Love You (1981), Eclipse (1983), Seeing through the Sun (1985), which won the 1986 American Book Award and the Juniper Prize, Savings (1988), and The Book of Medicines (1993), winner of the 1993 Colorado Book Award. Her award-winning fiction includes two volumes of short stories and two novels. Her other honors include the Lannan Foundation Award for poetry (1994), a Guggenheim grant (1990), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1986), the D'Arcy McNickle Tribal Historian Fellowship (1980), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas (1998). In 1980 Hogan was honored with a community service award, indicative of her commitment to combine community and environmental concerns. Her primary project is called "River of Words," which seeks to foster responsible stewardship of the environment by blending empirical lessons in painting, writing, and ecology for school-age students.
Hogans identification is as a tribal member—not an individual. She positions herself as spokeswoman of communally held tribal stories. For her the dead and the living form a continuous chain of existence across time. As she says of a miscarried child in "Crossings" (1993), "he was already a member of the clan of crossings." Hogan also envisions the continual presence of the dead in "The Grandmother Songs" (1993) when she says, "once, flying out of the false death of surgery, / I heard a grandmother singing for help." Hogans work is wary of a white culture whose science risks damaging the continued existence of the human race. In poems, such as "Mountain Lion" (1993) and "The Fallen" (1993), Hogan links deaths of American Indians to the destruction of animal species. Such potential annihilation leads Hogan to explore fertility and sexual reproduction in the rich and complex language that is indicative of her concern for both the physical and emotional environments.
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