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.

November 1873. Mary Todd Lincoln is confined to the Bellevue Place Sanitarium for insanity, where she talks to the Savage Indian and the sentient Rope, both reminders of her husband’s decision to hang thirty-eight Dakota in 1862 Mankato, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Part theater of the absurd, part highly stylized biography, part historical archive, this daring cross-genre narrative traces the limits of one woman’s sanity, the betrayals of a family, and the contradictions and crimes on which the U.S. is founded.

About the Author

LeAnne Howe is a poet, fiction writer, filmmaker, and playwright and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Howe worked as a newspaper journalist for twelve years before earning an MFA from Vermont College. Her honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, an American Book Award, and a United States Artists Ford Fellowship. She is the Eidson Distinguished Professor in American Literature at the University of Georgia.

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