Authors: Linda Hogan

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Last reviewed: June 2018

American poet and novelist

July 16, 1947

Denver, Colorado

Identity: American Indian (Chickasaw)


The Chickasaw poet and novelist Linda Hogan is a leading figure of the American Indian literary renaissance. Hogan came from a working-class background, and her childhood was divided between Denver and rural Oklahoma, where her family possessed deep roots. During the time her father was in the military she also traveled throughout America and Europe. {$I[AN]9810001796} {$I[A]Hogan, Linda} {$I[geo]WOMEN;Hogan, Linda} {$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Hogan, Linda} {$I[geo]AMERICAN INDIAN;Hogan, Linda} {$I[tim]1947;Hogan, Linda}

Linda Hogan

Hogan grew up with a rich oral tradition. Her father’s lively stories later became key sources for her poems and fictions, and the knowledge of American Indians’ dislocation and disinheritance became the basis of her politics.

At the age of fifteen Hogan started working full-time. For the next ten years she did odd jobs ranging from a position as dental assistant to work as a cocktail waitress. In 1973 she received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. When she was in her late twenties, Hogan moved to the Washington, D.C., area and worked as a teacher’s aid with orthopedically handicapped students. During her free time she began to write. When, soon after, she discovered the work of Kenneth Rexroth and James Wright, she was inspired to start writing poetry.

After studying with the poet Rod Jellema, Hogan entered a graduate program at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and in 1978 she received an M.A. in creative writing. That same year she bought her home in Idledale, a small village in the Colorado mountains, where she moved with her two adopted daughters, Sandra Dawn Protector and Tanya Thunder Horse, both Oglala Lakota.

Also in 1978 Hogan’s first book appeared, Calling Myself Home, a collection of poems inspired by her Oklahoma experiences and by the tensions between her white and Indian heritages. Although the work received scant critical attention, Calling Myself Home did establish Hogan as a poet of merit.

From 1978 until 1984 Hogan held a variety of creative-writing teaching positions in the Denver region; she taught at Colorado Springs’ Colorado Colleges Institute, and she was writer-in-residence at several Colorado and Oklahoma high schools.

During this time she published two further poetry volumes, Daughters, I Love You and Eclipse, and Oklahoma State University at Stillwater produced her play, A Piece of Moon. In Daughters, I Love You, Hogan focuses on the horrors of atomic war and the tragic destruction of American Indian culture. The play A Piece of Moon deals with the occupation at Wounded Knee in the early 1970’s. Eclipse also reflects Hogan’s American Indian political concerns, but in this work she also begins to pursue her central fascination with mystical and ecological themes.

These three works brought Hogan wider critical attention. A Piece of Moon was awarded the Five Civilized Tribes Museum Playwriting Award, and Eclipse won an honorable mention in the Western States Book Awards.

From 1984 to 1988 Hogan taught American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. This locale provided the inspiration and setting for her later novel Solar Storms. During this time she also began her work on raptor restoration, and she published her first short-story collection, That Horse, in which she reworks her father’s oral narratives and her Oklahoma childhood memories. Hogan also continued writing poetry, collected in Seeing Through the Sun and Savings. In these works Hogan reveals the connections between her American Indian worldview and the universal, perennial concerns of family, alienation, ecology, and mythology. She also explores the complementary nature of American Indian spirituality and politics.

Her writings met with increasing critical success and honors that included a National Endowment for the Arts award and a Pushcart Prize; Seeing Through the Sun was awarded the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

In 1989 Hogan returned to the University of Colorado, Boulder, as an associate professor in English. A year later she published her first novel, Mean Spirit, which is set in the 1920’s during the Oklahoma oil boom on Osage land. The Osage suddenly find themselves a target of envy and greed; through a series of murders and legal assaults they are uprooted from their ancestral lands. Mean Spirit won the Oklahoma Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Hogan next published Red Clay, a reprinting of earlier work, and The Book of Medicines, a collection of spare, imagistic poetry in which she examined the world of darkness and suffering and the healing power of nature and Indian spirituality. The Book of Medicines received the Colorado Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Hogan’s next novel, Solar Storms, centers on a young woman of Cree ancestry who searches the Canadian border region to find her lost family; as a result she becomes embroiled in a battle against a hydroelectric dam that would destroy her people’s far northern homelands. Concurrently with this novel Hogan published the collection of essays Dwellings. In this work, set primarily near Hogan’s Idledale home, the writer explores the centrality of nature and the American Indian reverence for the earth. Both books received strong reviews, and praise from such authors as Terry Tempest Williams, Barbara Kingsolver, and Sherman Alexie.

Power, which was published in 1998, is a coming-of-age story of a Taiga girl named Omishto, who witnesses her spiritual mentor kill a panther, a sacred animal, and must learn the uses and abuses of spiritual power.

In 2008, Hogan published her first volume of poetry in fifteen years, Rounding the Human Corners; the poems focused on the interconnection between living beings. She followed this with the novel People of the Whale (2009), about a Native American man's experiences in the Vietnam War. Also in 2009, Hogan's theatrical work Lowak Shoppalá premiered at East Central University's Ataloa Theatre in Ada, Oklahoma; the performance incorporates traditional Chickasaw storytelling, music, and dance.

Indios, a narrative poem about a Native woman who is seduced and abused by a white man, was published in 2012, followed by Dark. Sweet. New and Selected Poems, which provides a broad overview of Hogan's work, in 2014.

Hogan’s memoir, The Woman Who Watches Over the World, the writer makes clear the connections she sees between life, myth, and spirituality.

Author Works Poetry: Calling Myself Home, 1978 Daughters, I Love You, 1981 Eclipse, 1983 Seeing Through the Sun, 1985 Savings, 1988 The Book of Medicines, 1993 Rounding the Human Corners, 2008 Indios, 2012 Dark. Sweet. New and Selected Poems, 2014 Long Fiction: Mean Spirit, 1990 Solar Storms, 1995 Power, 1998 People of the Whale, 2009 Short Fiction: That Horse, 1985 Drama: A Piece of Moon, pr. 1981 Lowak Shoppalá, pr. 2009 Nonfiction: Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World, 1995 From Women’s Experience to Feminist Theology, 1997 The Woman Who Watches Over the World: A Native Memoir, 2001 Sightings: The Gray Whales’ Mysterious Journey, 2002 (with Brenda Peterson) Edited Texts: The Stories We Hold Secret, 1986 Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals, 1998 (with Deena Metzger and Brenda Peterson) The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World, 2001 (with Peterson) The Inner Journey: Views from Native Traditions, 2009 Miscellaneous: Red Clay: Poems and Stories, 1991 Bibliography Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. Allen discusses contemporary Native American women poets and novelists, including Linda Hogan, in a context of woman-centered tribal values. Balassi, William, et al., eds. This Is About Vision: Interviews with Southwestern Writers. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990. Bell, Betty Louise, ed. Studies in American Indian Literature 6 (Fall, 1994). Special issue on Linda Hogan; provides multiple points of view on Hogan’s work. Brice, Jennifer. “Earth as Mother, Earth as Other in Novels by Silko and Hogan.” Critique 39, no. 3 (1998): 127-138. Analyzes Hogan’s depiction of Native American attitudes toward and myths about the earth in Mean Spirit. Bruchac, Joseph. Survival This Way: Interview with American Indian Poets. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987. Crawford, John, William Balassi, and Annie O. Eysturoy. This Is About Vision: Interviews with Southwestern Writers. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990. Places Hogan in context with other Native American writers through parallel interviews with Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, and Luci Tapahanso. Hogan’s interview, by Patricia Clark Smith, includes discussion of early life, fiction, poetry, and work at a wild animal shelter. Donaldson, John K. “As Long as the Waters Shall Run: The ‘Obstructed Water’ Metaphor in American Indian Fiction.” American Studies International 40, no. 2 (2002): 73-93. Hogan is one of four writers whose use of “obstructed water” as a metaphor for the relationship between Indian and white culture is analyzed. Fitz, Karsten. “Native and Christian: Religion and Spirituality as Transcultural Negotiation in American Indian Novels of the 1990’s.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 26, no. 2 (2002): 1-15. Analyzes Mean Spirit along with Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues. Jaskoski, Helen. Review of Calling Myself Home, by Linda Hogan. SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures 6, no. 1 (1986): 9-10. Sees the themes of metamorphosis and transformation as central to Hogan’s vision. Krupat, Arnold. “Facing the Page.” The American Book Review 15 (July/August, 1990). Proposes that the interconnection of the spiritual and material is the key to Hogan’s work. Rainwater, Catherine. “Intertextual Twins and Their Relations: Linda Hogan’s Mean Spirit and Solar Storms.” Modern Fiction Studies 45, no. 1 (1999): 93-113. Analyzes Hogan’s use of the image of twins as a representation of collective existence and spiritual connection. Smith, Patricia Clark. “Linda Hogan.” In This Is About Vision: Interviews with Southwestern Writers, edited by William Balassi, John F. Crawford, and Annie O. Eysturoy. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990. Provides good background on Hogan’s early life and her view of her craft and her role as a writer. Includes discussion of her early life, fiction, poetry, and environmental work. Walter, Roland. “Pan-American (Re)Visions: Magical Realism and Amerindian Cultures in Susan Power’s The Grass Dancer, Gioconda Belli’s La Mujer Habitada, Linda Hogan’s Power, and Mario Vargas Llosa’s El Hablador.” American Studies International 37, no. 3 (1999): 63-80. Hogan is one of four writers whose use of Magical Realist techniques is analyzed.

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