Lance David Henson’s career as a poet began at Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts when he published his first book, “Keeper of Arrows,” in 1971 while a student. He is now a poet with an international reputation having published 17 books of poetry, half in the U.S. and half abroad. His poetry has been translated into 25 languages and he has read and lectured in nine countries.
On Oct. 16, 2004, Henson was named to the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.
“I am pleased to be included in the Hall of Fame. USAO was an enthralling experience for me. My first book, “Keeper of the Arrows,” was published there when I was a sophomore. That book began my career.”
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1944, he is Cheyenne, Oglala and French. He was reared on a farm near Calumet, Oklahoma, by his great aunt and uncle, Bertha and Bob Cook. His great uncle was the groundskeeper for Chapter One of the Native American Church of Oklahoma. Lance was the last of five boys reared by this couple. He grew up living the Southern Cheyenne culture.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school during the Vietnam War. After his graduation from USAO in 1972, he earned a MFA in creative writing from the University of Tulsa. His attendance was supported by a Ford Foundation Fellowship.
After 10 years of conducting poetry workshops through the Artist in Residence program of the State Arts Council of Oklahoma, Lance began to travel, working both in the U.S. and in Europe.
His readings include the One World Poetry Festival in Amsterdam, the International Poetry Festival in Tarascon, France, and the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. He has co-written two plays, one of which, “Winter Man,” had a successful run at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company. His play, “Coyote Road,” played to sell out audiences in Versailles, France in December 2001. A new remix of a jazz and poetry CD titled “Another Train Ride” (1999) has appeared in collaboration with Brian Eno, titled “The Wolf and the Moon” (2001).
Lance represented the United States Information Service as a Featured Lecturer in Singapore, Thailand, New Guinea and New Zealand in 1993. He has also represented the Southern Cheyenne Nation at the European Free Alliance in Leeuwarden, Netherlands and at the United States Indigenous Peoples Conference in Geneva in 1988. He returned to speak at another conference there in 1997.
Awards include a residency in 1995 at the Millay Colony for the Arts; poet-in-residence at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, 1993; in residence at the Mad River Theater in West Liberty, Ohio, where the play “Coyote Road,” co-authored with Jeff Hooper, was performed. Two of his books, “Cheyenne Sketchbook” and “Another Distance” were among the five poetry finalists in the 1992 Oklahoma Book Awards sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
His literary project, “Words From The Edge,” has been funded again for a spring 2005 tour. He also has speaker status as an NGO at the UN, Geneva.
Lance is a member of the Cheyenne Dog Soldier Society, the Native American Church and the American Indian Movement (AIM). He has participated in Cheyenne Sun Dance on several occasions as both dancer and painter.