Cameron University presents Southern Cheyenne poet Lance Henson

The Cameron University Library will present internationally renowned poet Lance Henson on Thursday, March 29. A member of the Southern Cheyenne Nation, he will present his poetry at 7 p.m. Henson's poetry, which incorporates Cheyenne philosophy and traditions as well as social and political commentary on the modern world, is known for its powerful imagery, brevity and universal appeal. The reading takes place in the Cameron University Library and is open to the public at no charge. The event is made possible by the Clodus & Pauline (Chaat) Smith Endowed Lectureship in American Indian Studies.

Born in Washington, D.C., Henson was raised on a farm near Calumet and grew up living in the Southern Cheyenne culture. He served in the U. S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Henson is a graduate of Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts (now University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Tulsa. He has published 28 volumes of poetry and been translated into 25 languages.

The Dictionary of Literary Biography says of Henson, "One of the few contemporary Native American poets who writes bilingual poetry, Lance Henson has received international recognition for his knowledge of Cheyenne language and culture and his skill as a poet in English. Having traveled and read widely, Henson acknowledges influences from European, Latin American, and Oriental literature; but he remains Cheyenne in his basic outlook, returning to Oklahoma each June for the Sun Dance."

Henson conducted poetry workshops through the Artist in Residence program of the State Arts Council of Oklahoma for 10 years, then began to travel. In 1993, he represented the United States Information Service as a Featured Lecturer in Singapore, Thailand, New Guinea and New Zealand. He also has represented the Southern Cheyenne Nation with the European Free Alliance in Leeuwarden, Netherlands and at the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Conference in Geneva in 1988.

His readings include the One World Poetry Festival in Amsterdam, the International Poetry Festival in France and the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. He was selected for a residency at the Smithsonian Institution through the Distinguished Native American Scholars program and was also a resident at the Millay Colony for the Arts in 1995 and poet-in-residence at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Henson is a member of the Native American Church, the American Indian Movement and the Cheyenne Dog Soldier Society.


March 19, 2012