lance henson

another distance and other poems

another song for america

Literary Biography Entry at BookRags

Lance Henson has published 28 books of poetry, which have been translated into 25 different languages.

His life has included a stint with the Marines during the Vietnam War; book smuggling into East Berlin with fellow poets; squatting in abandoned buildings as part of an Italian protest movement; and representing the Southern Cheyenne Nation at the European Free Alliance in the Netherlands, and at the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Conference in Geneva.

“Poetry is a discipline I am still trying to acquire,” Henson says. “It seems, as a poet, I am doing as the Tenzo Head Chef of a Zen monastery says, 'cooking my life.' What rises to the top or becomes otherwise cooked is the poem itself.”

“I, like many Native writers for my generation, found difficulty finding poets whose poetry spoke directly to us,” he said. “It was the poets outside of America that addressed issues I could comprehend — words and metaphoric responses to genocide, ethnocide and human resistance to inhumanity.”

“Henson has always adhered to the strictest minimalist standards. The poems are brief and enigmatic, dependent on their images, uncompromising in their demands on the read­er. They are the work of a poet who knows that language is the original magic and who believes that words possess their greatest power when they are free of conventional ‘poetic’ interference…

“Henson's strength is that he has remained rooted in the earth of Oklahoma, where he was born, and in the traditions of his Cheyenne forebears. His best work, it seems to me, is informed by his awareness of those traditions and by his ability to infuse a poem with the emotional force of original Cheyenne elements.”

Robert L. Berner, World Literature Today

“Along with the sounds of Oklahoma place names and still living Cheyenne words, the poems show the easy but mysterious grace of daylight/dreamtime images in motion. Henson's way here is that of the true Dog Warrior; gentle and fierce, guarded and open, bringing the old and new together, all at once. It is a little like Kafka's 'nature theater of Oklahoma' (re)made by one who lives there — and no less magical for all of that.”

Jerome Rothenberg