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 Splendid Enterprise & a Search for a Letterpress Printer

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley
*If you are a letterpress printer, please see my purple note at the end of this message.

Since 2016, the NDSU Intro to Publishing students, working with NDSU Press, have had the chance to learn how to operate turn-of-the-20th-century letterpresses. We begin with a Saturday at Hunter Times, a museum located in West Fargo at Bonanzaville. Having learned about Chandler & Price letterpresses and safety measures, students take a turn at  letterpress printing. Allan Burke–an expert in all matters about letterpress history and operations–provides a tour, and then in small-group format, students begin the process of letterpress printing the chapbook covers for the current winner of our Poetry of Plains and Prairies Award.

 

 

Hunter Times location_Students at work with a Chandler & Price letterpress

Students at Hunter Times, learning to operate the Chandler & Price letterpress, one page at a time. Left to right: Raechel Heuer, Sydney Olstad, Ken Smith.

Later in the semester, on a Friday afternoon, we load up a caravan of cars and head for The Braddock News Letterpress Museum, located on the vast grounds of the South Central Threshing Association. The drive is about two-and-a-half hours from campus, and for some of my students, it is the farthest west they’ve ever been.

On Friday night, our host, Allan Burke, gives the students yet another tour. The Braddock News Letterpress Museum is home to multiple pieces of equipment dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Here, the students have hands-on access to Chandler & Price letterpresses, a 1940s stitcher, and a trimmer, dating also from the turn of the 20th century.

 

2019-11-16 10.50.56

Fall 2019 Intro to Publishing students at the Braddock News Letterpress Museum, working on the chapbook publication, Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson. Students pictured from left to right are Laura Ellen Brandjord, Kalley Miller, Ryan Nix, Nataly Routledge, Zachary Vietz, and Alexis Melby.

Following our museum tour, we dine sumptuously courtesy of the Threshers Association Iron Men and board officers, some of whom do the welcoming, cooking, serving, and cleaning. Initial printing begins after supper.

2018-11-03 18.20.58

Publishing student Samantha Soukup dishes up some homemade stew at Miss Kitty’s, the food hub (and pitstop) for our publishing team while on site at The Braddock News Letterpress Museum.

The students learn about moveable type, and we generally put that knowledge to work when we print our covers. For printing the interior, however, we do resort to some modernization. It would take too long to set type for the forty interior pages, so we order up raised-magnesium printing plates instead. Each plate prints two pages on one side of a sheet of paper. When the papers dry, we can flip them over to print two more pages.

78466678_971456986587039_3686853802956161024_o

Sample plates for printing pages from Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson. (Photo by Tim Jensen Studios.)

 

Land of Sunlit Ice_ink drying at Braddock

Maggie Krull, setting sheets out to dry. In the background, Angela Beaton and volunteer Jerome Schwartzenberger, retired publisher of the Napoleon [ND] Homestead, make sure everything is right.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Braddock_Photo by Ken Smith

Our team finishes up the final copies of Land of Sunlit Ice, by North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode, the first chapbook project of our series. From left to right: Sydney Olstad, Amanda Biles, Jerome Schwartzenberger, Raechel Heuer, Clarence Hertz, Suzzanne Kelley, Angela Beaton, Allan Burke, Maggie Krull, and Ken Smith.

We start this enterprise as amateurs, and we finish as proficient Devils Printers…the official name for our interns with experience under their belts and ink under their fingernails.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In this, the year of the pandemic, our options for continuation of this splendid enterprise have become limited for the production of our newest addition to the chapbook series, A Muddy Kind of Love, by Carolyn Dahl. We must cut out our trip to Braddock. We’ll still meet face-to-face in small groups (optional, not required) at Hunter Times to print our covers for the newest addition to our chapbook series. Our current plan (subject to revision) is to hire a professional letterpress printer to print and assemble the interior. If you or someone you know fits the bill, please contact Suzzanne Kelley post haste for details. Contact information is available at our website.

 

 

 

 

Now Accepting Submissions for the NDSU Press 2020 POPP Award

We’re looking for poetry! NDSU Press has opened its 2020 submissions portal for our Poetry of the Plains and Prairies (POPP) Award!

North Dakota State University Press seeks poetry submissions of any style for our annual POPP Award chapbook publication. While the author(s) may call any place home, their submissions must deftly capture the feeling of, as well as the reality of, living on the plains and prairies. Authors may submit any number of poems equaling thirty to thirty-five pages in length, with no more than one poem per page. (Single poems may extend more than one page.) The selected poetry collection will be published as a limited edition chapbook, hand-printed with antique letterpress equipment.

Our POPP Award submissions date ends March 17, 2020. Please follow our NDSU Press Submittable link for details.

NDSU Press publishing interns print the 2019 POPP Award chapbook, Harvest Widows, by Nick Bertelson (Missouri Valley, IA) at The Braddock News Letterpress Museum.