cover image The Book of Medicines

The Book of Medicines

Linda Hogan. Coffee House Press, $15 (96pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-010-6

Native American novelist and poet Hogan ( Seeing Through the Sun ) delivers poems of great verve. As in her other work, the poems anthologized here reflect both Hogan's Chickasaw heritage (``The grandmothers were my tribal gods'') and a feminist sensibility (``I want the world to be kinder. / I am a woman. / I am afraid''), and many touch upon a concern for the earth (``This is the world without end / where forests have been cut away from their trees''). Through a history of the word red, the opening piece demonstrates the common bonds linking all humanity (``Red is this yielding land turned inside out by a country of hunters. . . . And red was the soldier / who crawled / through a ditch / of human blood in order to live''). Hogan's poetry is spare, elemental and direct, with a tremendous evocative force of imagery. She imbues simple things like crows, salt and bamboo with grace and dignity. A brief poem about a drought brings together Native oral tradition and modern reality, forming a prayer for rain. A piece about a chambered nautilus is a respectful bow to poetic tradition and the well-known work of Oliver Wendell Holmes. With this all too brief volume, Hogan has come into her own as an artist. (June)