(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Helen Diane Hall was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother of English-German descent and a father of Cherokee heritage. She married Dwane Glancy in 1964, the same year she received her B.A. from the University of Missouri. The couple had two children, David (b. 1964) and Jennifer (b. 1967), but the marriage was unhappy and ended in divorce in 1983. Glancy completed an M.F.A. from the prestigious creative writing program at the University of Iowa in 1988. In 1992, she became a professor at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Glancy’s creative output is varied and prolific. In addition to poetry collections such as (Ado)ration, she has published novels, essay and short-story collections, plays, scripts, and literary criticism. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as an American Book Award.

(Ado)ration is Glancy’s most sustained interrogation of Native American and Christian spiritualities. The collection moves from an initial presentation of these spiritualities as a dichotomy to a new and richer hybrid or “syncretic” spirituality (literally “syn” meaning with or together and “cret” meaning creed or beliefs). This syncretic belief system is developed through a series of historical, personal, and metaphysical encounters.

Glancy’s poetry defamiliarizes Christianity—not through a demonization of the conquerors and their religion, but through a struggle of faiths as seen from the Native American perspective that takes place across time, between cultures, and within the narrator. Particular Christian tenets that seem incomprehensible from the Native American perspective at the opening of the collection are recontextualized at later moments in the collection, showing how the narrator individually and Native Americans collectively are constantly struggling to understand and to re-create Christianity in a form that combines Old and New World perspectives.

One of the most striking ways in which Glancy...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Allen, Paula Gunn. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. A foundational work in the study of Native American spirituality and women’s writing.

Glancy, Diane, and Mark Nowak, eds. Visit Teepee Town: Native Writings After the Detours. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1999. An anthology of postmodern writings; the preface and introduction are manifestos elucidating the editors’ belief that subversive oral traditions are essential to Native American “survivance.”

Rochon, Glenn. “Glancy’s ’Well You Push Your Mind Along the Road.’” Explicator 61, no. 1 (Fall, 2002): 59-61. A lucid, close reading of Glancy’s poem identifying how she uses a dialectic to present the religious transformation of a self.

Ruwe, Donelle. “Introduction.” In Dancing at the Altar: American Indian Literature and Spirituality, edited by Donelle Ruwe. Special issue of Religion and Literature 26, no. 1 (1994): 1-7. A useful overview of Native American spirituality and literary criticism.