After a very long process that involved lots of bureacracy, meetings, more revisions of my resume than I want to think about, and testimonies from colleagues and former students (thank you!), I've been promoted to full professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Hurrah!
Knopp is the author of Field of Vision, Flight Dreams: A Life in the Midwestern Landscape, The Nature of Home, and Interior Places. Her award-winning creative nonfiction, which explores her home ground in Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska, has been lauded as "reminiscent of Thoreau's introspective nature writing and Dillard's taut, personal prose."
This morning as I was reading Susan Griffin's essay "Red shoes" for the seminar I teach in experimental forms of creative nonfiction, I came across these words: "I love that moment in writing when I know that language falls short. There is something more there. A larger body. Even by the failure of words I begin to detect its dimensions. As I work the prose, shift the verbs, look for new adjectives, a different rhythm, syntax, something new beings to come to the surface." That is what I love the most about writing.
I just finished, "Earthmover," my essay about the lowly but mighty earthworm for the anthology that Barbara K. Richardson is editing called Loving Dirt: Thirty Writers Get Down to Earth. Some of the other writers in this "dirty" little collection include Julene Bair, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Marilyn Krysl, John T. Price, Liz Stephens, and Wes Jackson. I can't wait to read their takes on dirt!
You're invited to my book talk at the Milton R. Abrahamson Branch Library in Omaha on Monday, December 16, 2013, from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. I'll give a brief reading, speak about the research that I did for What the River Carries, as well as the autobiographical elements in the collection, answer questions, and send folks on their way with some place-based writing prompts.
The library is on 5111 N. 90th Street. The event is free. To register, go to http://host2.evanced.info/omaha/evanced/eventsignup.asp?ID=30214
Please call the library at 402.444.6284 if you have questions.
The following is Caitie Leibman's review of What the River Carries on the Prairie Schooner blog. http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/?q=blog%2Fbriefly-noted
Lisa Knopp layers rich historic and personal detail to create a stunning landscape of thought in her collection What the River Carries. This series of essays remains unified by its mesmerizing gaze on that natural element that has long transfixed the inhabitants of North America. She divides her exploration by river, considering the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Platte in turn.
Most impressive about Knopp is her ability to keep readers afloat in her dense narratives of place. For one, she maintains engagement by threading implication and significance throughout her river histories. The reader learns in a moment that Muscatine, Iowa, once was responsible for a third of the world’s button production, and in the next understands the pressing need to reinvigorate mussel species that have been devastated by industry. This blend of present and past—sometimesdistant past, as in the earth’s geologic formation—brings relevance to the hypnotic force of these rivers.
This relevance helps Knopp achieve something truly special with her work: her intimate treatment of these subjects informs a connection to place. And I admire Knopp’s own journey to understand place, as in the way she reimagines her “bland, flat … unstoried, unsung” impression of the Platte (155): she writes that as her own work began to find its voice in essay, she appreciated that the Platte shaped itself with braided streams as she braided ideas on the page. As she frankly recounts her river relationships, Knopp allows readers to consider their own.
The work evokes so many scenes of the American consciousness—the adventures of Lewis and Clark, native tribal gatherings, river bluffs at a stream’s bend, fishing, camping, driving—a reader can’t help but flow along with Knopp on this thoughtful journey.