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|Meadowlark- February 2021|
Kansas Poems “is a poetry of place and microhistory, which nonetheless transcends the people and events it tells about . . . And while I’ve never been to Kansas, I now feel that I might have—or at least that there is a Kansas of my mind, a place of lakes and fireflies and small lives.” --Laura Chalar, author of Unlearning and Midnight at the Law Firm (Stories)
Brian Daldorph’s eighth full-length collection of poetry is a tribute to his adopted state, where he has lived through the four seasons year by year, in Lawrence, Kansas.
Kansas poetry blooms in these pages, not only poems set in Lawrence, Linwood, Garden City, and Coffeyville, but also in the more mythological locations of Stony Creek Cemetery, Brook Creek Park, Oak Hill Cemetery and Stull, which, legend has it, is one of the gates of Hell.
These are poems about Kansas people: a Vietnam vet still angry at the government who betrayed him; undertaker Zeke Haskins, looking out of his office window at his dying small town. The football coach’s wife who fears that her husband will recruit their sons for the sport he loves.
There are ghost stories here, jail visits, love stories and break ups, a Kansas story about Brown Recluse spiders and Black Widows “waiting in outhouses and dreams with that one bite/ to freeze your limbs and jam your lungs . . .”
Brian Daldorph teaches at the University of Kansas and Douglas County Jail. He edits Coal City Review.
“Any new book by Brian Daldorph is cause for rejoicing, but his latest, a love song to his adopted home of Kansas, should have all poetry fans hurrying to the bookstore. This long collection (72 poems) parades a rich cast of both real-life and fictional characters—missing husbands, ghosts, paleontologists, convicts, even Walt Whitman—through whose anecdotes and voices, offered in sharp vignettes, a vivid image of the land accrues in all its glorious complexity.
“This is a poetry of place and microhistory, which nonetheless transcends the people and events it tells about in much the same way as Borges’s poems about obscure Argentinian characters transcend their specific circumstances to shed light on deeper truths. And while I’ve never been to Kansas, I now feel that I might have—or at least that there is a Kansas of my mind, a place of lakes and fireflies and small lives.”
Laura Chalar, author of Unlearning and Midnight at the Law Firm (stories)
“Daldorph treats Kansas with delicate honesty. But these stories are beyond a midwestern state and could be found anywhere. That’s what Daldorph has always done best—channeling the human condition. He brings joy to the sadness, enlightenment to failure, and liberation from any prison that can contain the human spirit.”
Matt Porubsky, author of Ruled by Pluto
“Daldorph has an eye and ear for portraying the lives of ordinary (and extraordinary) Kansans. He gets at people and places in this careful, generous collection, revealing our birthmarks, our scars, our warts—all that makes us unique and beautiful.”
Kevin Rabas, 2017-19 Poet Laureate of Kansas and author of More Than Words
Book Launch (Feb. 5)
Hutchinson News (Jan. 28)
Topeka Capital-Journal (Jan. 16)
Emporia Gazette (Jan. 9)