Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Poetic Strokes, Volume Four, publishes June 8, 2010

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Poetic Strokes, Volume Four, just published and on sale for $5.

FOR EVERY WRITER, publication brings a certain thrill, a validation that the words they’ve written hold meaning for a publisher, an editor, and, most importantly, for the reader.

That’s especially true for poets. In poetry, every word counts. Poets understand that. In perhaps no other writing genre is word choice so important.

Of all the writing I’ve done through the years—newspaper, magazine, essay, devotionals, greeting card verses and poetry—poetry and greeting card verse writing have proved the most challenging.

When I nail a line, and then a whole verse or an entire poem, I know it. And, apparently, editors also realize that. I’ve attained success in both publishing of my greeting card verses and my poetry.

Last week a copy of Poetic Strokes, A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota, arrived at my house. The slim volume published by Southeastern Libraries Cooperating includes my poems, A school without a library and Saturday night baths.

Mine are the first two poems in the book. Forty-two poems were selected for publication from 280 submitted by 118 poets in Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties.

Of the 30 poets whose poems were selected for publication, 11 of us have multiple poems in the Legacy Amendment-funded anthology.

Within the pages of this volume, you’ll find poems that speak of libraries and veterans’ memorials, of personal pain and spoiled Americans, of wind and harvest and so much more. Among my favorites are Woman of the Earth and Final Harvest by Delores Daggett and The Garden by Ronda Anderson-Sand.

It’s no secret to me why I especially like these poems. They are similar to mine—rooted to the land and vivid with descriptive words that allow me to picture the place, the people, of which the poet writes. They also touch me emotionally.

Whenever I write a poem, I immerse myself in the subject, transitioning to the place or time that is the subject of my writing. I tap into my memory bank, remembering details that appeal to the senses. In Saturday night baths, I recall the red-and-white-checked linoleum, the slippery bar of soap, the oven door tilted open for warmth. Details like that make for a good poem.

Often, I write of my childhood experiences growing up on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. Those seem to resonate with readers.

You can read my latest published poetry by checking out Poetic Strokes, Volume 4, from any SELCO library. If you’re outside the system, request an inter-library loan.

Or, consider adding this anthology to your personal collection. In Faribault, Friends of Buckham Memorial Library are selling a limited number of Poetic Strokes for $5 at the circulation desk.


Friends and family, if you want a copy, let me know. For $5 and shipping costs (if you need the volume mailed), I’m willing to get a book for you.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling