Sunday, August 25, 2013

Denise Low's NATURAL THEOLOGIES, Essays about the Middle West: Explorations of Literature and Place, Ecocriticism, and Creative Writing

PADDLEFISH #7 (2013)  has a great review of my book Natural Theologies: Essays about Literature of the New Middle West. I am so pleased to see his attention to some of the too often undervalued authors I critique: Heid Erdrich, Louise Erdrich, Ted Kooser, Diane Glancy, Linda Hasselstrom, Adrian C. Louis, and Joseph Marshall III, to name a few.

David N. Cremean, author of Cormac McCarthy: Critical Insights and professor at Black Hills State University, writes:

Natural Theologies ultimately not only provides valuable criticism, but also teaches about writing itself. It could (and should) be used in classrooms exploring literature, literature and place, ecocriticism, and perhaps above all creative writing: both relative to exploring writings, poetry in particular, and to insights how to go about that writing itself. In such ways, and many others, this volume goes a long way in showing how ‘literary works propose solutions to both the surface and the entire field of philosophical inquiry.’”

Other contributors to this issue are David Lee, Adrian C. Louis, William Trowbridge, Charles Bowden, Tom Gannon, and Kevin Zepper. For more the full review and information about subscription ($12) and the William Kloefkorn Poetry Prize ($12 includes a subscription), see or write directly to Jim Reese, Mount Marty College, 1105 West 8th St., Yankton, SD 57078. Cover photograph by Rich Lofthus. My continuing gratitude to Greg Kosmicki of The Backwaters Press (www.thebackwaterspress ) in Omaha for taking the risk and investing the capital to publish Natural Theologies!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Diane Lockward Publishes New Poetry Writing Text

I am so pleased to be included in a new textbook! THE CRAFTY POET: A PORTABLE WORKSHOP, by Diane Lockward, has model poems with prompts, writing tips, and interviews contributed by 56 poets, including Kim Addonizio, Kelly Cherry, Bruce Dethlefsen, Amy Gerstler, Marilyn Hacker, Lola Haskeins, Jane Hirshfield, Dorianne Laux, Sydney Lea, Denise Low, Alicia Ostriker, Linda Pastan, Stanley Plumly, Nance Van Winckel, and Ingrid Wendt. This is a “tutorial to inform and inspire poets.” The book’s sections inclue “Generating Material/Using Time,” “Diction,” “Sound,” “Voice,” “Imagery/Figurative Language,” “Going Deep/Adding Layers,” “Syntax,” “Line/Stanza,” “Revision,” “Writer’s Block/Recycling.” Each section includes  topic, model poems with prompts, writing tips, and interviews with poets. It is "geared for the experienced poet as well as those just getting started.? Please consider adopting this for your poetry group, classroom or workshop. It is ideal for individual use as well. Wind Publications. 280 pages

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mary Harwell Sayler Reviews NATURAL THEOLOGIES by Denise Low for RATTLE

This is the beginning of a review in RATTLE, by Mary Harwell Sayler.  Quoted from the review:
"....I got to know the diverse [Midwestern] voices in this 'first critical study of contemporary Mid-Plains literature'—a book that includes much-admired poets and writers but also a wide range of Midwestern voices I had not previously heard. Denise Low obviously knows each of those voices well. Not only has she taught at various universities and won prestigious awards for her own books, she’s a fifth-generation Kansan, whose roots go as deep as prairie grasslands. More importantly, perhaps, her personal lineage of European and tribal peoples have given her a uniquely blended background for intelligently discussing relevant topics—from the landscape to the Lakota to the contemporary literary achievements of native Midwesterners."

This reviewer understands important threads of this project. Sayler continues:

"Taking cover under the book’s title, four sections come together in 'A Revised Frontier Literature' (with a variety of accomplished poets and writers, including Denise Low), 'Settlement. The Cities' (with Langston Hughes, David Ray, Mbembe Milton Smith, Stanley E. Banks), 'Hard Land, Strong Character' (William Stafford, Robert Day, Patricia Traxler, and others), and 'Natural Theologies,' which looks at 'Ted Kooser’s Poetics of Devotion,' the 'Poets in the Bible Belt' (Michael Poage, Jo Mcdougall, and Kathryn Kysar), and 'Louise Erdrich’s Magic Spells, Prayers, and Parables.' That fourth section drew me to the book, but touched on more than I’d imagined, such as how 'American Indian religions derive belief from specific sacred sites,' or how poems by Ted Kooser 'begin located in solid reality, but then surreal leaps occur. . . .'”
To continue reading, see   
For more information about the reviewer, see
To obtain a copy, see Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order from The Backwaters Press 
And thanks to the fine journal Rattle at