Paula Gunn Allen: Contribution as American Poet

Also Read

      Paula Gunn Allen (1939-2008) Native American poet, critic and novelist concerned with the re-establishment of the importance of women in Native American tradition. She was born into a multi-lingual family of Laguna Pueblo, Sioux, Scottish, German and Lebanese ancestry and is related to the writer Leslie Marmon Silko. She grew up in the land between the Laguna Pueblo and Acoma reservations in New Mexico. Educated at a convent school and at the Universities of California and New Mexico, following a Professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, she became Professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles.

      Paula Gunn Allen's novel The Woman Who Owned the Shadows (1983), written from the perspective of a woman recovering from mental collapse, is the first novel by and about a Native American woman. It is constructed from fragments of memory and includes diverse forms such as interior monologues, letters, doctors notes and divorce papers. She has written books of criticism, including the groundbreaking The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (1986) in which she expresses the need for Native Americans to recognize our amazing ability to endure, recover, restore our ancient values and life ways, and then blossom'.

      Paula has also edited critical anthologies, the most notable of which, Spider Woman's Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and Contemporary Writing by Native American Women (1990), won the 1990 American Book Award. In 1994 she published an anthology in two volumes called Voice of the Turtle: A Century of American Indian Fiction (1994). Although she is prolific as a poet, she is best known for her prose writings. She is sometimes discussed as a lesbian writer and cites Gertrude Stein and Audre Lorde amongst her influences.

Previous Post Next Post