Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The Heritage Room publishes a newsletter, available via e-mail if you sign up here on the Lincoln City Libraries web page, or by clicking on the icon on the lower left-hand corner of the Heritage Room home page.
Reduced staff hours are making it hard for us to continue to blog here. The sidebar listings of links to Nebraska literature and to Nebraska writers' own websites and blogs will, for now, continue to be updated from time to time.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Poet and writer James Cihlar is the author of the chapbook Metaphysical Bailout (Pudding House Press, 2010) and the poetry book, Undoing (Little Pear Press, 2008). Cihlar's poems have also appeared in Prairie Schooner, Bloom, Minnesota Monthly, Northeast, The James White Review, Water-Stone Review, Mankato Poetry Review, Plain Songs, and many other magazines and reviews. His work has been included in the anthologies Aunties (Ballentine, 2004), Regrets Only (Little Pear Press, 2006), and Nebraska Presence (Backwaters Press, 2007). Cihlar is also the former editor of Nebraska Humanities. He is the recipient of a Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship for Poetry. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, April 17th in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Please join us. We look forward to an interesting reading.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Marilyn Dorf writes poetry, short stories and essays. She grew up on a farm near Albion, Nebraska, and acquired a lasting appreciation of nature, wildlife and rural life that is reflected in her writing. Her chapbooks include: A Tribute to Buttons (1985), Of Hoopoes and Hummingbirds (1998), Windmills Walk the Night (1992), This Red Hill (2003), I Know That An Owl Owns This Sky (2009). Her poems have been published widely in periodicals, including The Christian Science Monitor, Kansas Quarterly, Wholenotes, Poet, Plainsongs, Bitterroot, and Nebraska Life Magazine, among others. She lives in Lincoln and is the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association's Author Member for 2010-2011.
The Program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6th , in the auditorium on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Coffee provided by The Mill. Please join us for an interesting program.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Brent Spencer is a writer of novels, short stories, screen plays and memoirs. His publications include a novel, The Lost Son (Arcade Publishing) and a collection of stories, Are We Not Men? (Arcade Publishing), which was chosen by the editors of The Village Voice Literary Supplement as one of the best books of the year. His most recent work is a memoir, Rattlesnake Daddy, published by Nebraska's own Backwaters Press, that works through the legacy of his father's cruelties and absence. Spencer directs the Creative Writing Program at Omaha's Creighton University. He is a recipient of the Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford, where he was also a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing, and the James Michener Award at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he earned his MFA. He has also been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, and The Millay Colony. He and his wife, Jonis Agee, have won awards for their screenplays. Spencer's work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The American Literary Review, Epoch, The Missouri Review, GQ, and Writers Digest, among others.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, March 20 in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Please join us.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Willa Cather Foundation will host the 56th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, Willa Cather and her Popular Culture, April 29-30, 2011 in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Their poster, right, shows Willa dressed as Peter Paragon in "The Fatal Pin," a Union Girls Dramatic Club production in October, 1892.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The Program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2nd, in the auditorium on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Coffee provided by The Mill. Please join us for an interesting program.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
A new Heritage Room display surveys the literary presence of the Nebraska Sandhills. Some of the most memorable work by Nebraska authors has emerged from this fragile and challenging landscape. Our new display includes memoirs and works of history, biography, natural history, fiction, and photography.
The visual star of this display are the very striking black and white photographs from Charles Guildner’s portfolio “Lives of Tradition.” Guildner’s work was purchased in 2007 by Lincoln City Libraries with funds privately donated for that express purpose. The silver prints depict life on the Haythorn Ranch, a storied Sandhills ranch where the owners have continued to find a profit in using horses to do jobs that were mechanized almost everywhere else.
Paul Johnsgard’s This Fragile Land: A Natural History of the Nebraska Sandhills (1995) provides a superb introduction to the ecology of the region, its geological history, its creatures and its conservation issues. Charles McIntosh, The Nebraska Sand Hills: The Human Landscape (1996) draws from a lifetime of study in presenting a complete scholarly historical geography of the region, its occupants and their conflicts, beginning with Native Americans. Superb sketch maps illustrate McIntosh’s discussions of different waves of occupation, settlement, conflict and economic development. Nellie Snyder Yost’s The Call of the Range (1966), her history of the Nebraska cattle industry, is still an excellent guide to the origins and history of the great Sandhills ranches and the cattlemen who built them.
But above all, the history of the Sandhills is the story of great characters. The history of the Sandhills lives in the memoirs, autobiographies, and biographies of those who settled the area. Their histories are one of the grand themes of Nebraska literature.
Mari Sandoz’s great biography of her father, the irascible, violent, but indomitable “Old Jules” Sandoz would be the best known of the biographies. And Sandoz, settler, land-promoter, friend of the older generation of mountain men, wanderers and Indians, feuded incessantly with his neighbors, among them Bartlett Richards, the founder of The Old Spade Ranch, in its time, the largest and most famous of the great Sandhills ranches. The biography of Richards by his son, Bartlett Richards, jr. and Ruth Van Ackern reminds us that Richards, too, was an interesting and complex character.
The Sandhills are cattle country, the region was poorly suited to the small homesteads that settlers moving in from the East imagined they might establish there. The resulting conflicts over fencing, leasing of public lands, water rights, and land use by settlers and cattlemen could turn violent. And with every policy change, ranchers seemed to come out on top over the long haul, besting the homesteaders, and acquiring their land. The ranchers were portrayed as real villains in the Eastern press, because in the East, no one really understood the futility of the broken dreams that died in the dry lands beyond the 100th meridian. Whether or not the story that Theodore Roosevelt told Bartlett Richards to his face that he would put Richards in a Federal Penitentiary is apocryphal, Richards died in the custody of the Adams County Jail, where he was being held on a Federal conviction for fraudulent land filings. But local lore remembers that in the Kinkaid era, settlers would often gather up in such numbers at the Old Spade Ranch for the noon meal that an additional table had to be put up for the cowhands. Richards felt obliged to feed such guests, and sometimes to loan them equipment, to keep them from starving on their homesteads. The landscape itself swallowed the dreams of the farmers, only the ranchers survived.
To the biographies of Sandoz and Richards, and Lawrence Bixby, the “Preserver of the Old Spade Ranch,” in the crisis of the 1920s, one might add the memoirs of James H. Cook (1857-1942), Fifty Years on the Old Frontier (published in 1923), friend of Red Cloud and of the Northern Cheyenne and founder of the old 04 Ranch, and of his son Harold Cook, Tales of the 04 Ranch, which recounts the (fossil rich) Nebraska boyhood of the famous paleontologist. Perhaps we should remember the outlaw Doc Middleton as well. There are many more genuinely fascinating memoirs and biographies from the Sandhills than can be mentioned here.
The Sandhills are featured in many mavellous photography books. A complete collection of these would overfill the display case: Margaret MacKichan and Bob Ross, In the Kingdom of Grass (1992), Michael Forsberg’s Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild (2009), David A. Owen, Like No Other Place: The Sandhills of Nebraska, Photographs and Stories (2010), Roger Bruhn (Foreword by Ted Kooser), Dreams in Dry Places (1990), Georg Joutras, Along the Edge of Daylight: Photographic Travels from Nebraska and the Great Plains(2005) would be among them. Michael Forsberg was a recent Ames Reader, and Lisa Norman’s Haythorn Land & Cattle Co.: A Horseman’s Heritage: A Pictorial Essay was also mentioned in an earlier post. I have used some of their covers to illustrate this posting.
The Heritage Room maintains a Nebraska Sandhills Book List on its home page.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
John Janovy Jr. has lived in Nebraska since 1966. He holds the Paula and D.B. Varner Distinguished Professorship in Biological Sciences at UNL. He has been Director of UNL's Cedar Point Biological Station, Interim Director of the Nebraska State Museum and secretary-treasurer of the American Society of Parasitologists. He is a distinguished scientist, with a research interest in parasitology, and the author of over 90 scientific papers and book chapters.
In addition to his scientific career, Janovy has also pursued a literary career writing natural history and social and cultural commentary informed by the practice of the scientist. Janovy's 1978 Keith County Journal put him in the front rank of America's natural history writers, with reviewers comparing his work to writing by Loren Eiseley and by the pioneer ecologist Aldo Leopold.
Janovy's publications span a wide range of topics, and include, besides natural history titles, Fields of Friendly Strife: The Relationship of a Father, Daughter, and Sport, and Conversations between God and Satan: Held during October, 2004 at the Crescent Moon Coffee House in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, Earth, Milky Way, a work of science fiction.
Janovy's literary career spans enormous changes in publishing. Janovy endured rejections by 22 publishers before St. Martin's took Keith County Journal, and a newspaper reviewer noted that a later book garnered 42 rejection slips before reaching a more perceptive editor. A local publisher who knew the writer and wanted him to write freely on Nebraska related themes solicited the manuscript for Janovy's 2009 Pieces of the Plains: Memories and Predictions from the Heart of America. Janovy has used CreateSpace.com and Amazon's Kindle to self-publish his novel, The Ginkgo, in both paper and electronic formats. Janovy is a writer who is interested in his audience, especially young people, and is willing to take chances and say what he wants.
Heritage Room collections, by the way, include Janovy's artwork as well as his books.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, February 20th in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Please join us. We look forward to a fascinating program.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Distinguished journalist, author and University of Nebraska College of Journalism professor Joe Starita will present the Nebraska Literary Heritage Assocation's February Lunch at the Library Program here at Bennett Martin Public Library. As you may remember from a previous posting here, Joe's I am a Man: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice was the One Book, One Lincoln book for 2010. An earlier book, The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge (1995) garnered a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Joe has broad interests, and along with Tom Tidball, he is also the author of A Day in the Life: The Fans of Memorial Stadium (1996), a book of photographs and observations on this aspect of our local culture. He delivers an exciting program.
The Program will begin at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, February 2nd, in the auditorium on the fourth floor of Bennett Martin Public Library at 14th and N Streets in downtown Lincoln. Please join us.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
2011 Nebraska Poet's Calendar will be introduced by Sarah Fairchild at Sunday, January 16th Ames Reading
Sarah Fairchild grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska, and studied English at Doane College and the University of Nebraska. Her Poetry has appeared in many publications, including Plainsongs. Sarah runs Black Star Press, which is once again publishing a Nebraska Poet's Calendar. At our Sunday, January 16th Ames Reading, Sarah and her friends, poets John Johnson, Mary K. Stillwell and Rex Walton will present an exiting program of poetry to celebrate the publication of the Calendar.
The original artwork used in the 2011 Nebraska Poets Calendar is being shown in displays at the entrance to Bennett Martin Public Library and on the library's second floor. Artists Connie Backus-Yoder, Sally Cox, Su Harvey, Sue Kouma Johnson, Tom Meyers, Max Miller, Marilyn Reynolds, Gene Roncka, Donna Schimonitz, Melissa L. R. Sinner, and Richard Terrell contributed to the Calendar and the displays.
The program begins at 2:00 PM Sunday, January 16, 2011 in the Heritage Room on the 3rd floor of Bennett Martin Public Library in downtown Lincoln. Come see the displays and join us for a stimulating reading and discussion.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
What follows is a sampling of some of the new and notable titles acquired by the Heritage Room in the last six months.
Mari Sandoz "I Do Not Apologize for the Length of This Letter" The Mari Sandoz Letters on Native American Rights, 1940-1965, Introduced and edited by Kimberli A. Lee, with a foreword by John R. Wunder. (Plains Histories) Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2009.
Kimberli Lee, who compiled this collection and wrote chapters introducing the volume and the four carefully chosen groupings of letters within it, became acquainted with the letters when she was a doctoral student as the University of Nebraska. Lee created the online finding aid for the National Endowment for the Humanities supported project that preserved some 20,000 pages of Sandoz letters, and some 32,000 of Sandoz's research cards on microfilm.
The selection that Lee has made focuses on four themes: Sandoz's concern with historical accuracy in the portrayal of Native Americans; her indictments of federal Indian policy; her criticism of the negative and simplistic stereotyping of American Indians in advertising, film, and fiction; and her support for Native writers and artists.
Sandoz was driven, to the point of obsession, by her concern for historical accuracy, with getting the details right. She hated it when she found the history that mattered to her most obscured by confusion, inaccuracy, and carelessness. Thus her raging contempt for the films that borrowed freely (plagiarized, she thought) from her books on Crazy Horse and on the Cheyenne, only to present, yet again, new and sensational versions of that stereotyped, cliché-ridden false history she worked so hard to correct. She was equally clear-headed about the economic and political forces that were driving contemporary Indian Policy. She was also remarkably prescient in understanding what historical materials and themes were going to grow in significance as the years passed. At times she came close, long before it became popular, to writing a sort of environmental history. On the subject matter in question here, Lee quotes Vine DeLoria, Jr. on her insights into Native history: "Sandoz had an amazing ability to develop themes and issues that plagued Indians during her time and that continue to disrupt us today."
While these attributes are perhaps not in themselves exactly the source of Sandoz's literary greatness, they are still very much part of what made her a great writer. This is an important book because it introduces a vast collection of material that reflects Sandoz's way of thinking about these matters. Perhaps it's worth noting, too, that well considered collections of this sort have been an important part of the intellectual landscape, but that may not be true any longer. As Lee notes in closing, such a collection of Sandoz's letters "may never again be produced on paper, given technological advances in digital and electronic communication." Will anyone take the trouble to do this kind of work, if the product is to be as ephemeral as a blog posting?
Several related works have come in over the last several months, including:
Wynne L. Summers, Women Elder's Life Stories of the Omaha Tribe. Macy, Nebraska 2004-2005, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009
Hugh J. Reilly, The Frontier Newspapers and the Coverage of the Plains Indian Wars (Native America: Yesterday and Today), Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2010.
Linda M. Waggoner, Fire Light: The Life of Angel De Cora, Winnebago Artist, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008. A fascinating biography of one of the first Indian artists to make it in the mainstream of American art.
We are now a bit behind in noticing new materials and hope to catch up in later postings.