Land of Sunlit Ice: Giving Region a Voice

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press

View from my front porch.

As I write, periodically gazing out my study window at a crisp, cold negative 24 degrees day, I revisit one of the first books I published when coming on board with NDSU Press. In a conversation with North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode about his current work—back in the fall of 2015—we landed on the proposition of publishing a chapbook of poetry: Land of Sunlit Ice. We wouldn’t do it in simple fashion, but in alliance with newspaperman Allan Burke (the mover and shaker behind the Hunter Times and the Braddock News Letterpress Museums), the Iron Men of the South Central Threshing Association, and my Introduction to Publishing students. That inaugural project kicked off a series of publications, evolving into what we now call the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies (POPP) Award. January 17, 2022, kicks off our seventh call for poetry for this prestigious prize.

Hand-letterpressed covers, individually painted by Introduction to Publishing students, class of 2016.

Introduction to Publishing students from the class of 2016.

Pictured after installing a hanging propane furnace in The Braddock News Letterpress Museum in Braddock, N.D., are left to right, Ken Rebel of Bismarck, Tony Splonskowski of Bismarck, David Moch of Hazelton, Tracy Moch of Kintyre and Dave Duchscherer of Bismarck. They are all active in the South Central Threshing Association, Inc.

Getting off to a stellar start with this fabulous collection led not only to our chapbook series. The publication and the publicity surrounding our work led to our tagline: giving region a voice. I’d like to say that we thought of this all-encompassing phrase all by ourselves, but it came instead from an article about what we do, published in North Dakota Living’s article by Luann Dart “NDSU Press Gives Region a Voice.” At root, this simple tagline represents the mission of the press since its first conception in 1950. We are proud to continue that mission today.

But, what exactly is “region,” and how do we apply the term as a geographic and sensate parameter today?

Our mission statement declares that NDSU Press “exists to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary regional scholarship. These regions include the Red River Valley, the state of North Dakota, the plains of North America (comprising both the Great Plains of the United States and the prairies of Canada), and comparable regions of other continents.” We do this via publications in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. With our Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, we sometimes step out of region, but on the whole, our mission represents region as defined herein.

Still, on the topic of “region,” enter once again Mr. Woiwode. In a recent interview, Woiwode addresses an ever-burbling question about defining our particular region, with a push to include our region as an outlier of the Midwest. To this, Woiwode responds:

Once, talking heads and weather-people on TV became commonplace, the Midwest started to stretch from Pennsylvania to Nevada—perhaps because media people don’t often travel from their studios on the coasts. Iowa and Illinois and Indiana are at the heart of the Midwest, with Wisconsin and southern Michigan and perhaps western Ohio as participants, but northern Minnesota and North and South Dakota and Montana and Wyoming are definitely not the Midwest . . . Nebraska clings closer to South Dakota and Wyoming than any midwestern state, and the grounding in evidence and practicality of the area comes naturally, because many resident families were farmers or ranchers for generations. Neither occupation runs on theory.

I rejoice at this clarification, for it fits my own recognition of our region, and it clarifies how “comparable” regions might well be defined.

Woiwode’s next statement also lands squarely with my understanding of writers of region, based on my own research in memory and collective memory.

My sense is that a writer’s first steps onto terra firma, the place where the writer learns to walk, whether prairie or high plains or beach or forest or the floor of an apartment and on to concrete and asphalt, that place is the locus of creative power, even if never referred to—it’s the center and source of the words that arrive from one who travels the distance of a novel or collection of stories or enough poems to generate the microcosm of a genuine interior. The rhythms and the texture of the language of that place will always be present in all the creative work that follows.

Genius. That rhythm and texture, that locus of creative power in a work about region—these are the golden threads of what we seek in our publications, from chapbooks of poetry to the magnum opus of a book about turkeys that we have now in production.

 

Related notes:

Submissions to the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award will run January 17 through March 17. We seek collections of poetry, 30-35 pages in length (one poem per page; single poems may extend beyond one page) by a single author. There is no submission fee. Send manuscripts to NDSU Press Submission Manager (submittable.com)

Land of Sunlit Ice, by Larry Woiwode (2016, out of print). For more information on our chapbook projects, view Thunderbird & The Land of Sunlit Ice, produced by Sandbagger News.

Larry Woiwode has been North Dakota Poet Laureate since 1995. Born in Carrington, ND, he spent his early, formative years on the land in the farming community of Sykeston. He is widely (and wildly successfully!) published with poetry, novels, biographies, essays, and memoirs.

Woiwode interview quotes from Middle West Review, Volume 8, Number 1, Fall 2021, p. 206.

Flash & the Heidelberg

from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, and Allan Burke, Retired Newspaper Publisher and Consultant/Operator for Our Chapbook Publication Projects

The title page for a Muddy Kind of Love is printed on 32# Southworth Naturals Paper, Latte. Interior pages are printed on 32# Southworth Naturals Paper, Birch. 27# Red Maroon Vellum tissue insert at front and back. Cover is printed on 67# Cream Cover Stock. All printing is done with 16-gauge wood-mounted dies prepared by OWOSSO Graphic Arts, Owosso, MI.

While our blog title for today sounds like a crime-fighting duo, in reality, we are talking about chapbook press operations. In a typical year, our Intro to Publishing students would be caravanning to Braddock, ND, where they would print hundreds of pages at the Braddock News Letterpress Museum. This year being atypical, however, we have implemented Plan B.

Thanks to the folks at Flash Printing in Bismarck and to operators and consultants Mike Frykman and Allan Burke, our interior pages for A Muddy Kind of Love are being letterpress printed on a Heidelberg with some regional history.

Flash Printing is the proud owner of a Heidelberg letterpress, which they usually use for numbering, perforating, scoring, and die cutting. This weekend, with two new ink rollers that Allan brought to Flash from the Braddock News Letterpress Museum (Braddock, ND), this project is Back to the Future for the press.

The Heidelberg was bought brand new by the monks of the Benedictine Monastery at Assumption Abbey, Richardton, and Flash is its second home. One or more of the Flash owners attended high school at the abbey, which once had both a high school and a college. Several of the Iron Men—from the South Central Threshing Association—who aid and abet the operations at Braddock News, also attended the abbey’s high school, and one was the general contractor for one or more buildings on the abbey’s campus. Braddock Letterpress Museum founders hold the abbey’s folder in storage, awaiting restoration.


Pictured after installing a hanging propane furnace in The Braddock News Letterpress Museum in Braddock, ND, are, left to right, Ken Rebel of Bismarck, Tony Splonskowski of Bismarck, David Moch of Hazelton, Tracy Moch of Kintyre and Dave Duchscherer of Bismarck. They are all active in the South Central Threshing Association, Inc

Today, even as we write, Allan and Mike are letterpress printing the interior pages of A Muddy Kind of Love—the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award won by poet Carolyn A. Dahl—on the Heidelberg press. Through the magic of UPS overnight deliveries between Bismarck, Houston, and Fargo, we anticipate having fully printed, assembled, trimmed, and individually autographed and numbered copies available on December 10. Join Carolyn, Allan, Suzzanne, and our Intro to Publishing students on Saturday, December 12, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. CST for a visit with all and a book-launch-reading by Carolyn Dahl. You can register in advance for this meeting here. Free and open to the public.

Copies of A Muddy Kind of Love are available for pre-sales ordering at our NDSU Press online store.

About the author:

Carolyn A. Dahl, winner of the 2020 POPP Award with her chapbook, A Muddy Kind of Love

Carolyn Dahl was the Grand Prize winner in the national ARTlines2 poetry contest and a finalist in the PEN Texas Literary competition and the Malovrh-Fenlon Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, Art Preserves What Can’t Be Saved, won first place in the Press Women of Texas contest and the National Federation of Press Women’s Communications contest, chapbook division. She is the co-author of The Painted Door Opened: Poetry and Art, the author of three art books, and has been published in many anthologies and literary journals. Raised in Minnesota, she now writes from Texas where she raises monarch butterflies, sending them north to Midwest habitats.  www.carolyndahlstudio.com.

A Muddy Kind of Love is the winner of the 2020 Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award, hosted by North Dakota State University Press.

Poetry by Carolyn A. Dahl. Cover design by Jamie Trosen.

About the Intro to Publishing class:

Students—graduate and undergraduate—are able to gain experiential learning through our Intro to Publishing class, where they learn the history, business, and practice of small press publishing. The Intro is part of a series of required classes to earn our Certificate in Publishing, which is offered in conjunction with the day-to-day activities of NDSU Press. We could not take our usual class photo this year, as we only met face-to-face in small groups and at all the distance we could muster. Students from the class printed the covers for A Muddy Kind of Love on a Saturday in October using an 1890s Chandler & Price letterpress located at Hunter Times Museum, Bonanzaville, West Fargo. In light of our need to work at some distance, we invited Mikaila Norman to utilize her caricature-drawing skills to depict our chapbook project crew. If you are interested in earning the Certificate in Publishing offered via the daily activities of NDSU press, check out the descriptions here and here.

2020 North Dakota State University Press Introduction to Publishing students, instructors, operators, and consultants. Illustrations by Mikaila Norman.

Top, left to right, Undergraduates: Meghan Arbegast, Jamie Askew, Grace Boysen, Megan Brown, Jake Elkin. Row 2: Abigail Keys, Shawnia Klug, Sydney Larson, Jack Payette, Corrine Redding. Row 3: Kiri Scott, Madeline Wright. Graduate students: Lis Fricker, Oliver Sime, Elle West. Row 4: Allan Burke and Mike Frykman (Press Operators/Consultants); Dr. Suzzanne Kelley (NDSU Press Publisher/Instructor), Kalley Miller (Teaching Assistant), Zachary Vietz (Graduate Assistant in Publicity and Press Operator/Consultant).

www.ndsupress.org

 

A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise

As shared by friend of NDSU Press, Allan Burke, retired newspaper publisher, assistant and consultant for our chapbook printing projects

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving. 

Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She explained, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states. President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale’s request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. George Washington was the first president to proclaim a day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789, exactly 74 years before Lincoln’s.

The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary how he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State