Good times last night as Barb and I traveled down to Stanford to hear Linda Hogan read for the Indigenous Identity in Diaspora series.
Traffic was a mess, and we got to the reading just as the intros were over and Ms. Hogan was coming up to the mic. Her work was great, with deep roots in memory and place, and populated with natural folk—people with flaws and aspirations and real texture. Hogan’s use of the word “human” struck me because I don’t feel I here it often enough in poetry. I know a lot of poems are filled with characters but I don’t know how often those characters are portrayed as actual human beings. More endemic is poems with no trace of humanity, not poems set in nature or science, but poems that feel like a post-apocalyptic set where we have buildings, highways, and structures but no evidence of the people who live there or who built them.
Hogan’s work lives in nature, presumably in the setting of her Oklahoma home, and it is alive with trees, quarries, rivers, and people who do not let the fact they drive cars and take airplanes separate them from that natural legacy. To borrow one of Hogan’s titles, it feels like her work is “Gentling the Human.”
Another highlight of the night was speaking to Zamora, one of the organizers of the reading. She deduced that Barb and I were not Stanford locals (She says our good fashion sense gave us away.) and thanked us for coming out from Oakland for the reading. She then introduced us to Cherie Moraga who was also welcoming and a pleasure to chat with. Just a few more human touches to a fine reading.