After 20 years of living in the "Great American Outback," as Newsweek magazine once designated the Dakotas, poet Kathleen Norris (The Cloister Walk) came to understand the fascinating ways that people become metaphors for the land they inhabit. When trying to understand the polarizing contradictions that exist in the Dakotas between "hospitality and insularity, change and inertia, stability and instability.... between hope and despair, between open hearts and closed minds," Norris draws a map. "We are at the point of transition between east and west in the United States," she explains, "geographically and psychically isolated from either coast, and unlike either the Midwest or the desert west." Like Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge), Norris understands how the boundary between inner and outer scenery begins to blur when one is fully present in the landscape of their lives. As a result, she offers the geography lesson we all longed for in school. This is a poetic, noble, and often funny (see her discussion on the foreign concept of tofu) tribute to Dakota, including its Native Americans, Benedictine monks, ministers and churchgoers, wind-weathered farmers, and all its plain folks who live such complicated and simple lives. --Gail Hudson...
|Title||:||Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||260 pages|
|Url Type||:||Home » Dakota » Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas)|
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Dakotas) Reviews
Poignant moments of reading throughout this memoir for me -- most often through Norris' descriptions of the landscape, movingly familiar and beautifully rendered for this girl who was raised on a North Dakota farm. I even recognized the people she depicts and often, to my hyper-sensitive reader's ears, seems to criticize. To be fair, her awarenesses of 'Dakota' (the western-most portions of South AND North Dakota) are much fresher than mine, given my departure from ND over 30 years ago. In all, ...more
I read this years ago, and it was the first time I learned (by reading Norris's experience) to understand my sense of life through a sense of place. Geography is often ignored in this age when so few of us make our livings from the land, but the landscapes around us, what we see each day, the weather that blows around us, does impact us.
Having grown up in Kansas, I appreciated Norris's admiration for the plains -- a landscape many people write off as boring. There is nothing boring about a wide- ...more
It is always interesting to see how a book stands up to a re-reading. This book fared fairly well in that I think it is one of Norris's best written books. There is little narrative sequence in Norris's reflections, save the general story of moving from New York to South Dakota and through a process, South Dakota becomes home. Instead, what we have here is a series of poetic reflections on Dakota, on place, on the Benedictine monastery (Norris is an Oblate).
I found it interesting that many of N ...more
I discovered this book in a used bookstore in Charlottesville, and felt drawn to it immediately. My mom is from South Dakota and so I feel a connection to that part of the world, and I was also hoping to find a book celebrating solitude in a forgotten place. I was not disappointed. This quote sums up the book nicely-
"I had stumbled onto a basic truth of asceticism... it is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing ex ...more
Magnificent as always. I'll read anything by Kathleen Norris. She's my spiritual guidance counselor when I need her the most.
In "Dakota," author Kathleen Norris captures accurately, affectionately and yet also brutally honestly, what it is like to live in the American plains/Canadian prairie region of North America. On the positive side, she addresses the stark beauty, vast unpopulated territory, recent frontier history, and interesting ethnic mix. On the negative side, she confronts the isolation (both geographic and psychological) and potential loneliness which follows from it, often prevalent provincial attitude, u ...more
Kathleen Norris and her husband David Dwyer, both poets, left a thriving New York City arts community to live in South Dakota in 1974. Norris' family had inherited her grandmother's farm in Lemmon, a small town in northwestern South Dakota. Although they had originally planned on staying for only a few years, the couple decided to make it their permanent residence. In addition to their writing, they picked up a succession of part-time jobs to carve out a living.
Dakota: A Spiritual Geography is a ...more
Unlike the NY Times Book Review, I did not find this book "deeply moving". There were moments of clarity in her descriptions of extremes in weather and Hope church. But reading it was not enjoyable which is surprising since the author is (as she regularly points out) a poet. For instance, she uses monastic ("It's hard to say what monastic people mean to us"), monasticism ("My monasticism is an odd one"), and liturgy so often it was making me crazy. These clunky words conjure up little meaning fo ...more