Nebraska Poetry (2017)
My third book, an edited collection called Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867–2017, was released in April 2017 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press, with a foreword by Twyla Hansen, the current Nebraska State Poet. It was named a finalist for the 2018 One Book One Nebraska program and has been nominated for the 2018 High Plains Book Awards and a Nebraska Book Award.
The anthology encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 83 poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters.
The Sesquicentennial Commission granted the anthology Legacy Project status for the Nebraska 150 Celebrations. Listen to my “All About Books” conversation with Pat Leach, director of the Lincoln City Libraries, for NET Radio, and watch archived video of the April 2 official statewide launch at the Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors.
Writing in Western American Literature, Robert Brooke calls the anthology “an impressive resource”: “Simon hopes this collection will inspire ongoing mentorship between poets, in both educational and informal settings (32). The volume—in its historical scope, its intriguing array of Nebraska poems, and its scholarly apparatus that incites curiosity about the poets while making it easy to track down their writing in other places—has a very good chance of fulfilling this hope” (WAL 52, no. 4 [Winter 2018]: 479–81).
And in a review in Nebraska History, Kinley Hadden writes: “The collection gives a sense of a Nebraska poetic style as it has taken shape across different landscapes, times, and cultures. . . . This is an excellent resource for teaching regional poetry, and educators are likely to both wince and laugh at the many poems about teaching. The book gives a sense and experience of Nebraska that many—particularly those from rural settings—will appreciate and understand” (Winter 2017, 236).
“Though we’ve had other anthologies of Nebraska poets, no one has ever before tried to assemble all of the significant poets who have been associated with our state. This will be a fine contribution both to our literary life and our history.”—Ted Kooser
“There is something deep and sturdy about these homemade poems of the Great Plains. Daniel Simon has put together a wonderfully diverse and compelling anthology of Nebraska poets, who bring us news from the interior, straightforward lyrics with hidden depths, voices we need to hear, a hard-won clarity and wisdom.”—Edward Hirsch
“This anthology begins with Nebraska’s first published poet and extends to young poets writing today. These magnificent poems come from the revered and the obscure, the privileged and the poor. The writing is fresh and refreshing and offers a sampling of the changing phenomenology across three centuries of poets with Nebraska connections. I especially appreciated the inclusion of many women poets. Helene Magaret, Clarissa Bucklin, and Tillie Olsen, writing in the 1930s, delighted me with their passion, courage, and sense of social outrage. The women poets of today continue to write with precision and splendor about the things that most matter. Reading writing of the last fifty years from both genders, I found myself hearing many old friends’ voices. This book is destined to be both a college text and a household favorite.”—Mary Pipher
“Daniel Simon has done a magnificent job of culling these spellbinding snapshots-in-time of our fly-over, little-known, and still-wild state. It’s a great anthology.”—Ron Hansen
“Many great finds, poets long disappeared or neglected. . . . This will be a rich and generous book.”—Greg Kuzma
“This lineup is marvelous. I have often said I am eager to read a book, but it has never been more true. This is a book of great value. I know I will turn to it again and again. Incredible selections!”—Marjorie Saiser
On the Cover
“The Gift” (sandhill crane feather, Platte River Valley, Nebraska), by Michael Forsberg. “On a blustery April evening,” Forsberg writes, “a sandhill crane feather blows in the wind, caught in the coarse strands of threadlike prairie grass in a Platte River wet meadow. Each spring, crane feathers provide visual clues to where large concentrations of migrating cranes linger within this vast prairie river system. Once these birds depart to continue their northward migration, the feathers they leave behind serve as a reminder of their passing and a promise of their return” (161-028, SC1-LE-034). Copyright © 2016 by Michael Forsberg.