- Nebraska POW Camps March 8, 2015
2:00 p.m. - On March 8, 2015, Nebraska author and historian Melissa Amateis Marsh will discuss her research and publication Nebraska POW Camps: A History of World War II Prisoners in the Heartland. Ingeniously weaving fact and narrative, Marsh’s book tells the story of several camps in Nebraska—-at Camp Atlanta, Fort Robinson, and Camp Scottsbluff—-where Axis prisoners were held during World War II. Reviewed in the latest volume of Nebraska History, the Nebraska State Historical Society quarterly, Sheryl Shmeckpeper of Norfolk Daily News writes, “Marsh’s book is a direct and easily readable account of a subject that has been long neglected. It provides a glimpse into the camps—both the main camps and the satellite camps-scattered around the state. It analyzes the reason for their existence, the daily life of the prisoners they held, and the impact of the camps and the prisoners on the area economy. It also shares stories of the relationships forged between some of the prisoners and the Nebraskans they encountered.”
- Desmond Egan March 15, 2015
2:00 p.m. - Just in time to kick off St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Irish poet Desmond Egan will return to entertain us with poetry and story. Egan lives in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland and visits the United States annually for a tour of readings and workshops. He appeared at the Neihardt Site in 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2014, and will be here once more on March 15 to share some of his new works. Egan is recognized as one of Ireland’s most distinguished poets, teaching literature and serving as poet-in-residence at University College in Dublin and creative director of the annual Gerard Manley Hopkins International Summer School. He certainly has universal appeal, with over twenty collections of poetry and prose translated into a more than a dozen languages; one example is an anti-apartheid poem which graces Desmond Tutu’s bedroom wall. His most recent publication September Dandelion is a dual-language (English/Chinese) collection of poems published in China this past March. His work has been the subject of two documentary films, he holds an honorary doctorate from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and he continues to garner awards, such as the 2004 Macedonian Poetry Award. His poetry is often humorous but more likely to be observations on the painful realities of poverty and war, such as his poem “Peace.” Greatly influenced by American Jazz music, in the 1970s he used to come to New York to “starve about the place,” while absorbing the rhythms and nuances which color many of his works. Of his lighter pieces, among the most popular is his set of “Hokums,” an Irish blarney parody of Japanese Haiku poetry, a style he greatly admires for its simplicity and deep feeling.
- Spring Conference April 25, 2015
This year’s conference will focus on the role of letters in the lives of individuals with vastly different experiences living in the Great Plains region in the 19th and 20th century. We will explore the correspondence of John Neihardt and Willa Cather and the collections of lesser known individuals whose letters bear witness to the struggles of frontier settlement or of displacement, as in the letters written by Dakota men imprisoned in Iowa after the Dakota Wars of 1862. For the latter, the correspondence functions as acts of reclamation and talking back against the master narratives that often erase the more dispiriting and oppressive aspects of the Plains experience during that time. The letters of Neihardt and Cather offer a view into the psyche of two of Nebraska’s most beloved writers. The candid quality of these private communications contrasts with the highly conceptualized and self-protective language of their public personas and become important sources for learning more about the intimate reflections, aesthetic politics, and important relationships in each author’s life.
Letters are often deeply personal, private exchanges that reflect the complex cultural norms of the time period and the life happenings, both tragic and celebratory, of the subjects who author them. If you’ve ever searched through old postcards in an antique store or come across an old letter bookmarking a worn, leather—bound volume, then you’ve probably been struck by the beautiful handwriting, by turns of phrase poignantly rendered, and by the maneuvering of etiquette and social politics.
Keynote: Dr. Pamela Gossin is a professor of History of Science and Literary Studies at the Univ. of Texas where she founded and serves as the Director of the program in Medi-cal and Scientific Humanities. She is currently working on two Neihardt book pro-jects: Neihardt on Science: Selected Essays and Reviews 1913-1938 and Voice and Visions: The Selected Letters of John G. Neihardt and is partnering with UNL’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities to create a scholarly website and digital archive: Across the Spectrum: The Interdisciplinary Life and Letters of John G. Neihardt. Dr. Gossin’s presentation will focus on the importance and purpose of the digital archive and of bringing Neihardt studies into the 21st century and beyond. It will illustrate how Neihardt’s literary correspondence will help readers to hear the various “voices” of Neihardt’s vision—whether expressions of his views of life and love, the human family, his aesthetic and literary views, social observation and critique, or his substantial and significant perspectives on history, philosophy, culture, science, and spirituality.
Dr. Clifford Canku (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) has worked as an asst. professor for Da-kota Studies at North Dakota State Univ. and as director of Dakota Studies at Sissteon-Wahpeton College. A native Dakota speaker from childhood, Dr. Canku has been teach-ing courses in Dakota language and culture for many years. In 2013, the Minnesota His-torical Society Press published The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters: Dakota Kaskapi Okicize Wowapi. Canku provided both the transcription and the first published transla-tion of fifty of these letters. In April 1863—after the Dakota War of 1862, after the hang-ing of 38 Dakota men in the largest mass execution in U.S. history—some 279 Dakota men were moved from Mankato, MN, to a prison at Camp McClellan in Davenport, IA. They were imprisoned for three years, and more than 120 men died. Desperate to connect with their families, many of these POWs learned to write. These letters, the topic of Dr. Canku’s presentation, were written in the Dakota language and addressed to Rev. Stephen Riggs in the hope that he would take them to their intended destination, convey-ing treatment, conditions, concerns, and happenings at the concentration camp.
Dr. Andrew Jewell is an associate professor in the University Libraries, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the editor of the Willa Cather Archive (cather.unl.edu). He has pub-lished many essays on Willa Cather, American literature, digital humanities, and scholarly editing, and is the co-editor of two books, The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age and The Selected Letters of Willa Cather. He is also on the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Foundation. Dr. Jewell will be presenting “Willa Cather’s Life in Let-ters: The Role of Correspondence in Literary Creation” discussing the letters of Willa Cather, the challenges in editing them for publication, and their significance to the study of the author. Drawing upon his experience co-editing The Selected Letters of Willa Cather and the forthcoming digital scholarly edition The Complete Letters of Willa Cather, he will broadly consider the role of private correspondence in understanding literary figures.
Steve Kinsella is the author of 900 Miles from Nowhere: Voices from the Homestead Fron-tier and has more than 30 years of freelance writing with work appearing in South Dakota Magazine, South Dakota History, and Midwest Fly-Fishing Magazine. Kinsella will be present-ing “Letters of Great Plains Homesteaders: A Lifeline to Family, Friends, the Past and the Future.” We live in an era where correspondence is nearly instantaneous. During the homestead era, individuals could wait for months to get a response to their letter or to hear news from home. Receiving letters from family members and friends was one of the most cherished events in the lives of homesteaders. Kinsella will discuss the important role letters played in the daily lives of homesteaders and how they served as a lifeline to family members and friends. He will cite various examples of letters from homesteaders throughout the Great Plains.
Cheryl Dyer has a long history with the art of calligraphy and is a professional calligrapher in Omaha. Her grandfather was a calligrapher; as a child, she remembers watching him carefully place letters on parchment paper in his basement studio. Years later, she fell head-over-heels into lettering. Dyer took her first calligraphy course through the College of Art and Design at Iowa State Univ. After graduating, she worked as a graphic artist before deciding to start her own business. Cheryl Dyer Calligraphy & Hand-Lettering was born in 2001. Dyer will discuss her knowledge of the art of calligraphy and lettering and her experiences with this historic craft. Her presentation will include a demonstration and an exhibit of several original works.
Moderator: Taylor Keen (Cherokee/Omaha) studied English Literature and Native American Studies at Dartmouth and earned his MBA at Harvard. Keen joined Creighton University in 2008 as director of the Native American Center. He is also executive director of the Halo Insti-tute and a managing partner in Talon Strategy. He has served on the Cherokee National Council as an at-large member as well as a member of the Omaha Hethuska Warrior Society. He por-trays two characters for Chautauqua: Stand Watie and Standing Bear.
34th Annual Neihardt Spring Conference Schedule April 25, 2015
8:30 Coffee and Registration
9:00 Welcome and Introductions
9:15 Keynote Address: “Unhidden Treasures: The Voices and Visions of John G. Neihardt” by Dr. Pam Gossin
10:15 Break and Breakfast
10:30 “The Dakota Prisoner of War Letters of 1862 - 1868” by Dr. Rev. Clifford Canku
11:15 Lunch @ Community Center—215 Main St. Bancroft Downtown
12:30 Awards and Special Recognitions
12:45 “Willa Cather’s Life in Letters: The Role of Correspondence in Literary Creation” by Dr. Andrew Jewell
1:45 “Letters of Great Plains Homesteaders: A Lifeline to Family, Friends, the Past and Future” by Steve Kinsella
3:15 “The Art of Calligraphy” by Cheryl Dyer with Calligraphy Envelope Exhibit
- 50th Anniversary of Neihardt Day August 2, 2015
11:30 a.m. - 50th Anniversary of Neihardt Day
For more information, please contact the Neihardt State Historic Site at 1-402-648-3388 or 1-888-777-4667 or by email at email@example.com. Visit the site at 306 W. Elm Street, Bancroft, NE.