“A name creates life patterns,” Allison Adelle Hedge Coke writes, “which form and shape a life; my life, like my name, must have been formed many times over then handed to me to realize.” Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer
is Hedge Coke’s narrative of that realization, the award-winning poet and writer’s searching account of her life as a mixed-blood woman coming of age off-reservation, yet deeply immersed in her Cherokee and Huron heritage. In a style at once elliptical and achingly clear, Hedge Coke describes her schizophrenic mother and the abuse that often overshadowed her childhood; the torments visited upon her, the rape and physical violence; and those she inflicted on herself, the alcohol and drug abuse. Yet she managed to survive with her dreams and her will, her sense of wonder and promise undiminished.
The title Rock, Ghost, Willow, Deer refers to the life-revelations that brought Hedge Coke through her trials, the melding of language and experience that has brought order to her life. In this book, Hedge Coke shares the insights she has gathered along the way, insights that touch on broader Native issues such as modern life in the diaspora; the threat of alcohol, drug abuse, and violence; and the ongoing onslaught on self amid a complex, mixed heritage.