Savage Conversations

Fiction by LeAnne Howe

February 5, 2019 • 5 x 7.5 • 144 pages • 978-1-56689-531-6

The 1862 mass execution of thirty-eight Dakota nightly haunts Mary Todd Lincoln, institutionalized and alone with her ghosts.

May 1875: Mary Todd Lincoln is addicted to opiates and tried in a Chicago court on charges of insanity. Entered into evidence is Ms. Lincoln’s claim that every night a Savage Indian enters her bedroom and slashes her face and scalp. She is swiftly committed to Bellevue Place Sanitarium. Her hauntings may be a reminder that in 1862, President Lincoln ordered the hanging of thirty-eight Dakotas in the largest mass execution in United States history. No one has ever linked the two events—until now. Savage Conversations is a daring account of a former first lady and the ghosts that tormented her for the contradictions and crimes on which this nation is founded.

About the Author

LeAnne Howe (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) is a poet, fiction writer, playwright, and filmmaker. Her most recent book, Choctalking on Other Realities, won the inaugural 2014 MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. She is the Eidson Distinguished Professor in American Literature in English at the University of Georgia, Athens.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“LeAnne Howe’s words are to savor, contemplate, and horrify. Savage Conversations explodes with the stench of guilt and insanity that undergirds the American story, whispered through a personal, familial, national, and supernatural drama revelatory in every sense. Howe’s uncanny images will long haunt readers, just as the Dakota 38 linger in land and memory, both offering a testament to the violent entanglements of past and present.” —Philip J. Deloria

“This is a haunted poem. Howe gives us voices intimate, twisted, and deluded—and yet relentlessly exact. Inside this drama in verse, a seething history uncoils. But do we meet a mad woman’s fantasy or someone more real?” —Heid Erdrich

Praise for LeAnne Howe

“How does she do it? Cross Rocky Horror Picture Show with War and Peace in a voice that sings America’s song as deeply as the best musical poetry of Walt Whitman? But no, Howe’s voice is so utterly unique, comparisons can’t do her justice.” —Susan Power

“Let her lead you into history, intrigue, comedy and comic insight, even mystery, yes, as she impels you and other readers toward decolonization with attitude! A very fine and fulfilling read.” —Simon J. Ortiz