Linda Hogan

by Kyrsten Parmeter

Linda Hogan was born in 1947 in Denver, Colorado.  Her father was a full Chickasaw Indian and her mother came from pioneers of Nebraska.  She started writing in her 20s and moved to the East Coast to work with physically challenged after divorcing Paul Hogan.  She eventually moved back to Colorado to start at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and earned her M.A. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1978.  She has been teaching in the American Indian Studies Program and in the English department of the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1989.  Her poetry is recognized for the realism and insightful imagery of nature.


Her first collection of poems was published in 1978, Calling Myself Home, and was influenced by her mixture of white and Native blood.  Seeing Through the Sun was published in 1985, and was also influenced by her different ethnicities.  Daughters, I Love You, published in 1981, and Eclipse, published in 1983, were both influenced by her daughters.  She talks about preserving the Earth so her daughters can enjoy it throughout their lives also in the previously mentioned books.  In Savings: Poems, which was published in 1988, she writes more about politics, poverty, and racism.  The Book of Medicines was published in 1993, and talks about healing powers and making the world a peaceful place for the future.  She recently had two new books published: Rounding the Human Corners (April 2008), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and People of the Whale (August 2008).

– 1980 – the D’Arcy McNickle Memorial Fellowship at the Newberry Library
– 1982 – the Yaddo Artists Colony Residence Fellowship
– 1986 – the National Endowment for the Arts grant for fiction
– 1990 – the Guggenheim fellowship for fiction
– 1994 – a Lannan Award
Mean Spirit won the Oklahoma Book Award and the Mountains and Plains Book Award; this book was also a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize.
Solar Storms and Power were both finalists for the International Impact Award

Interesting Facts:

She adopted two girls, Sandra Dawn Protector and Tanya Thunder Horse, in 1979.
She has served on the National Endowment for the Arts poetry panel.
Linda Hogan has also volunteered at wildlife rehabilitation clinics in Minnesota and Colorado!
She will be coming out with a new book called INDIOS soon.

Critics’ Quotes:

“She vividly brings to life the realities of the natural world, its seasons, and their effects, observed with precision and understood with uncanny sympathy; time and again, she hits the exact metaphor that conveys the feeling of being truly alive. …” – Joseph Perisi says about Linda Hogan and her poetry.

“Deer Dance” from Rounding Human Corners:
This morning
when the chill that rises up from the ground is warmed,
the snow is melted
where the small deer slept.
See how the bodies leave their mark.
The snow reveals their paths on the hillsides,
the white overcrossing pathways into the upper meadows
where water comes forth and streams begin.
With a new snow the unseen becomes seen.
Rivers begin this way.

At the deer dance last year,
after the clashing forces of human good and evil,
the men dressed in black,
the human women mourning for what was gone,
the evergreen sprigs carried in a circle
to show the return of spring.
That night, after everything human was resolved,
a young man, the chosen, became the deer.
In the white skin of its ancestors,
wearing the head of the deer
above the human head
with flowers in his antlers, he danced,
beautiful and tireless,
until he was more than human,
until he, too, was deer.

Of all those who were transformed into animals,
the travelers Circe turned into pigs,
the woman who became the bear,
the girl who always remained the child of wolves,
none of them wanted to go back
to being human. And I would do it, too, leave off being human
and become what it was that slept outside my door last night.

One evening I hid in the bush south of here
and watched at the place where they shed their antlers
and where the deer danced, it was true,
as my old grandmother said,
water came up from the ground
and I could hear them breathing at the crooked river.
The road there I know, I live here,
and always when I walk it
they are not quite sure of me,
looking back now and then to see that I am still
far enough away, their gray-brown bodies,
the scars of fences,
the fur never quite straight,
as if they’d just stepped into it.


1.  Can you think of a time when you stumbled upon an area an animal used for bedding?  Did you stop and check it out and try to figure what animal was there?  How did you feel?
2.  Have you ever thought of an animal you would like to change into for a day or so?
3.  How did this poem make you feel in comparison to some of her other poems? (“Wild,” “Awake,” etc.)

Linda Hogan reading a poem, 2 minutes



About envirolit

Professor of Environmental Literature
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