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Reviewed by:
  • The Salt Companion to Diane Glancy
  • Amanda Moulder (bio)
James Mackay, ed. The Salt Companion to Diane Glancy. Cambridge: Salt, 2010. ISBN: 978-1844714284. 209 pp.

The Salt Companion to Diane Glancy offers a helpful supplemental bibliography of Glancy’s writing and criticism on that work, which makes very clear just how thin the scholarly attention directed at Glancy’s body of work has been. In the introduction to this edition, editor James Mackay surveys some of the recent scholarship on and responses to Glancy (from Adrienne Rich, Kimberly Blaeser, Molly McGlennen, Birgit Däwes, Brewster Fitz, Frederick Hale, Arnold Krupat, and Daniel Heath Justice). Mackay then explains that the collection sets out to fill a gap in critical attention.

Like Mackay, Chadwick Allen also laments scholarly inattention to Glancy and hypothesizes that this “may well be because scholars have been either unwilling or ill-equipped to engage Glancy’s driving compulsion in these texts: to examine in detail a Christian faith embattled both from without and within; to explore a largely unknown indigenous descent; to describe the painful isolation of juxtaposed and asymmetrical identities” (15). Allen’s “Esther in the Throne Room, Zaccheus in the Tree (Sequoyah in His Cabin): Diane Glancy’s Voice Between” draws deeply upon his personal connection to Glancy. He writes that he and Glancy “share similar lines of known and unknown genealogy . . . , common geographies . . . , familial stories of struggles epic and mundane” (16). To [End Page 107] locate evidence of Glancy’s “embattled” identity, Allen’s essay surveys her early works: the chapbooks she published on her small in-home presses, Hadassah and MyrtleWood, as well as her 1983 master’s thesis.

Many of the other essays in this collection examine the interplay between her Christian and Cherokee identities, the seeming paradox present in much of Glancy’s writing. In “Claiming Faith: Border-Crossing Theology in the Writing of Diane Glancy,” Jerry Harp examines Glancy’s syncretism and the tension between her identification with evangelical and Cherokee communities in her poetry and in some of the literary criticism on her work. Harp characterizes Glancy as a border-crosser and, in so doing, points out what may make this writer controversial: that when Glancy “finds anything in Cherokee belief or practice—e.g., conjuring, multiple gods—fundamentally at odds with her life in Christ, she leaves it out of her devotion. On the other hand, she remains fundamentally alive to what it means to be Cherokee” (49).

In contrast, Molly McGlennen’s essay, “Diane Glancy’s Creative/Critical Poetics,” begins with some skepticism about Glancy’s dedication to Cherokee communities. McGlennen engages deeply with indigenous nationalist scholarship, and by bringing this scholarship into the conversation, McGlennen is able to ask: “in terms of sovereignty, how does Glancy’s literature assert ideas of Cherokee nationhood in community-based, activist, and autonomous ways?” (61). Her analysis shows that Glancy interweaves many forms, genres, and narrative voices. In spite of her initial skepticism, McGlennen surmises that Glancy’s “writing illustrates the diverse voices and experiences of Cherokee communities that are scattered across the hemisphere” (67). In other words, through this weaving, Glancy simultaneously participates in and constructs a Cherokee poetics.

Birgit Däwes’s “’Foxtrot with Me, Baby’: Diane Glancy’s Dramatic Work” shows how Glancy’s plays deconstruct “notions of essentialist cultural identity in order to find new modes of historiography” (145). She discusses an ethics of reception through which to read and understand Glancy’s dramatic work, one that is nonlinear, pluralistic, and transnational. As such, Däwes’s analysis sidesteps some [End Page 108] of the questions about Glancy’s paradoxical identity yet arrives at a conclusion about the writer similar to McGlennen’s: that “Glancy’s dramatic work bridges the gaps between various genres, between theory and practice, storytelling, performance, and reception, and between a whole range of cultural differences” (148).

In the republished “Employing the Strategy of Transculturation: Colonial Migration and Postcolonial Interpretation in Pushing the Bear,” Karsten Fitz studies how Glancy’s Pushing the Bear uses transculturation (à la Mary Louise Pratt) to absorb Christian stories into Cherokee culture, thereby making survival possible, even through the incomprehensible trauma of forced removal and...


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