July 28, 2017

Looking Back - How To Live In the Heartland

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

How to Live in the Heartland by Twyla Hansen
1992 Flatwater Editions
Finished in March 1997
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

My Original Notes (1997):

Poetry by a horticulturist, living in Lincoln, working at Nebraska Wesleyan. Poems deal with childhood, adulthood, and aging with respect to life on a farm and in small towns. Familiar settings (9-Mile Prairie, I-80, prairie). Issues dealing with fertility, sensuality, sexuality, instinct, family, cycles of life. Not difficult to understand, yet the poems don't rhyme or sound melodic. Not bad, yet none struck me as great.

My Current Thoughts:

I still own a copy of this collection, so I decided to thumb through the pages and see if I could find a couple of favorite poems. Sadly, only one sparked any joy, which was disappointing as I had hoped to find several that might remind me of Nebraska, home to me for almost 25 years.

Nine-Mile Prairie, Mid-May

out here on a hilltop
you discover
how brief sunset lasts
watching the red ball
sink into the dust
shadows paling
the flat-chested hills
now knitted in green

down in the gullies
cool willows and elms
thicken with gnats
birds scatter
bedding down the day
the gradual loss of light
slowing all things
to still-life

toward moonrise
deer step out of hiding
owls sweep their prey
bullfrogs chant in mud
in step with the breeze
bluestems rise and fall
cottonwoods rattle
wild indigos bloom

each day the repetition
of sun and wind and sun
you feel it breathe
from the bottom
of its deepest roots
this tallgrass relict
exhales its stored-up heat
back to the stars

About the Author:

Twyla Hansen was born and raised in northeast Nebraska. She was raised on the farm her grandparents had purchased as immigrants from Denmark in the late 1880s. Hansen earned her BS in horticulture and MA in agroecology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, including How to Live in the Heartland (1992), Sanctuary Near Salt Creek (2001), and Potato Soup (2003), which won the Nebraska Book Award for poetry. Hansen collaborated with rancher and writer Linda Hasselstrom on the collection Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (2011); the book won the Nebraska Book Award in poetry and was a finalist for the Willa Literary Award and the High Plains Book Award. 

Hansen’s writing has appeared widely in periodicals and anthologies. She is a creative writing presenter through the Speakers Bureau of the Nebraska Humanities Council. In 2013, Hansen was appointed Nebraska State Poet. She lives and works in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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