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These 8 lyric and narrative poems—written in a range of forms—focus on the ecosystem of what remains of the North American tallgrass prairie, specifically as it is currently preserved in the ever-vanishing Loess Hills of western Iowa. They also explore the work of visual artists (in particular, weaver Sheila Hicks, and painter Keith Jacobshagen) as a way of examining connections between natural and artistic practices. Some of the relevant issues these poems take up include: changes in the treatment of the land since the arrival of Euroamericans in the 1800s, the resulting impact on native communities, shifts in the ratio of native to non-native (called invasive or exotic) prairie plant species, as well as the domestication of corn and the ways in which it has colonized our land and our food chain.

This work will eventually be a long poem, perhaps book-length, and will take the shape of an ABC book, a Polish literary form composed loosely of alphabetically arranged entries and used most famously perhaps by Czeslaw Milosz for his 2001 memoir, Milosz’s ABC’s.

Academic Division

Arts and Humanities


Arts and Humanities