New Acquisition: Songs From a White Heart by Jack Dann

IFWG’s Chapbook series is an avenue for the publishing house to present material that is underrepresented in the broadest sense of the word – and poetry is an example. We are extremely pleased to have acquired the rights to Jack Dann’s poetry collection, Songs From a White Heart, and look forward to its release in chapbook form in October 2022.

Jack Dann became involved with Native American religion as a result of a novel he was researching (it was called Bad Medicine in Australia and Counting Coup in the U.S.). Some of his experiences—which are detailed in this upcoming chapbook—took on the form of a spiritual quest. Jack was privileged to be allowed to participate in the mystical and largely unknown rights of Hanblecheyapi (the vision quest), Inipi (the sweat lodge), and the ceremonies of praying with the pipe and ‘giving flesh’. The deep sense of mystery and the transcendent fire of the sweat-lodge come alive in these poems.

From the Introduction to Songs From a White Heart:

In 1978 I was in a sweat-lodge being led by a Sioux medicine man who, it was claimed, had the gift of eagles. It was explained to me that that was his medicine, his power. In that sweat lodge where it was so hot that your skin could suddenly crack, I remember the steam coming up so hot that it actually felt cold![1]

I remember trying to hunker down into my blanket, and in that moment of sensory deprivation, in the intense heat and darkness, in that small space with eight other men…a space that seemed like miles of darkness…I heard a giant bellows working, felt something flapping inside the lodge, felt the touch of feathers, as something very large frantically flew about, trying to get out of that dark.

The bellows was probably my own blood pounding. The medicine man had an eagle’s wing, and was slapping it against my thigh, probably waving the wing in the steam-black air. I know that now, knew it then; but I remember that on one level, it was an eagle loose in the sweat-lodge. I knew it was a trick, but a trick played by the Trickster, one that had resonance on a level beyond the rational. For in that instant I had felt the eagle, not the medicine man’s feathers, but the eagle.And I remember shyly asking someone who had sat next to me in the sweat-lodge if he had felt anything strange in that session. He laughed and said, “Yeah, you mean the eagle in the sweat-lodge.”


[1] Temperatures as high as 140 to 170 degrees have been reported in sweat-lodges; and, indeed, I’ve seen people’s skin blister from the heat.


Jack Dann has written or edited over eighty books, including the international bestseller The Memory Cathedral, The Rebel, The Silent, Junction, and The Man Who Melted. He is a recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award (twice), the Australian Aurealis Award (three times), the Ditmar Award (five times), the Peter McNamara Achievement Award and also the Peter McNamara Covenors’ Award for Excellence, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Premios Gilgames de Narrativa Fantastica award. He has also been honored by the Mark Twain Society (Esteemed Knight).

His work has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Castaneda, Ray Bradbury, J. G. Ballard, Mark Twain, and Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick, author of the stories from which the films Blade Runner and Total Recall were made, wrote that “Junction is where Ursula Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven and Tony Boucher’s ‘The Quest for Saint Aquin’ meet…and yet it’s an entirely new novel…. I may very well be basing some of my future work on Junction.” 

Library Journal has called Dann “…a true poet who can create pictures with a few perfect words.” Roger Zelazny thought he was a reality magician and Best Sellers has said that “Jack Dann is a mind-warlock whose magicks will confound, disorient, shock, and delight.” The Washington Post Book World compared his novel The Man Who Meltedwith Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal.

Dr. Dann is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the School of Communication and Arts at the University of Queensland. His latest short-story collection is Concentration. In her introduction, critic and scholar Marleen Barr writes: “Dann is a Faulkner and a Márquez for Jews. His fantastic retellings of the horror stories Nazis made real are more truth than fantasy.”

Forthcoming is a volume in the Centipede Press Masters of Science Fiction series. His latest novel iShadows in the Stone: a Book of Transformations. New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson called it “such a complete world that Italian history no longer seems comprehensible without his cosmic battle of spiritual entities behind and within every historical actor and event.”

As part of its Bibliographies of Modern Authors Series, The Borgo Press has published an annotated bibliography and guide entitled The Work of Jack Dann. An updated second edition is in progress. Dann is also listed in Contemporary Authors and the Contemporary Authors Autobiography SeriesThe International Authors and Writers Who’s WhoWorld Who’s WhoPersonalities of AmericaMen of AchievementWho’s Who in Writers, Editors, and Poets, United States and CanadaDictionary of International Biography; the Directory of Distinguished AmericansOutstanding Writers of the 20th Century
and Who’s Who in the World. His Wikipedia entry can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Dann.Jack lives in Australia on a farm overlooking the sea. You can visit his website at [www.jackdann.com] and follow him on Facebook [www.facebook.com/jack.dann2], LinkedIn [jackdannauthor], and Twitter [@jackmdann]

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