A member of the Comanche Nation, Sy Hoawah’s family descends from both the Yapaituka/Penatuka Comanche and the Bad Faces band of the Southern Arapaho. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Hoahwah was raised in Arkansas and southwestern Oklahoma. He is a direct descendent of Comanch orator and principal chief Ten Bears, and of the Arapaho leader, Little Raven. Hoahwah earned an MFA from the University of Arkansas and is the author of the poetry collection Velroy and the Madischie Mafia (2009).
Hoahwah began his career as a visual artist. He is considered both a Native American and Southern poet, as his work is heavily influenced by his Southern plains heritage. Hoahwah’s poetry explores the contemporary continuance of Comanche identity into the 21st century, offering an ironic perspective on life in a cultural landscape haunted by death and beauty, and on the fringe of mass capitalism and Pan-Indianism. His poems are complex imagistic sets of surrealism, gang subculture, witchcraft, and ghost lore fused in tight lyrical narratives or post-modern enjambments. Foregoing any clichés of identity crises, Hoahwah reconstructs Comanche mythology within a contemporary Native consciousness of social survival.
Hoahwah, with his wife and five children, now resides near St. Louis, Missouri.