Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Slam Poet Rachel McKibbens in Nebraska Next Week!

PSR loooves slam poetry more than almost anything else (see our last issue, in which we interviewed Matt Mason!). We've seen quite a few really impressive poets perform, but we're practically dying of excitement right now, because the amazing Rachel McKibbens is coming to do some shows in Lincoln and Omaha, October 8-10.

From her website:
Poet Rachel McKibbens is an ex-punk rock chola with five children. Known for her astonishingly visceral stage presence and devotion to craft, McKibbens has become one of the most respected poets in the spoken word community. She is the 2009 Women of the World poetry slam champion, is an eight-time National Poetry Slam team member, a three-time NPS finalist, and a 2007 New York Foundation for the Arts poetry fellow and Pushcart nominee.

Thurs., Oct. 8
7 pm: No Coast Poetry Slam
Meadowlark Coffee & Espresso
1624 South Street
Lincoln, NE

Fri., Oct. 9
Rachel McKibbens at the City Campus Union
The Crib, UNL City Campus

Sat., Oct. 10
7:30 pm: Omaha Healing Arts Slam
OM Center
1216 Howard
Omaha, NE

P.S. Are you a little skeptical? Check out this video and prepare to have your heart broken.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wyuka Cemetery's 140th Anniversary Celebration

We at PSR are big fans of Wyuka Cemetery. It's such a rich source of Great Plains history, as well as a current cultural center. Which is why we're pretty excited about Wyuka's 140th birthday party!

Where: 3600 O St., Lincoln, NE
When: Sunday, October 4th, 1:00-5:30 PM
Free admission

There's going to be all kinds of interesting events all afternoon: historian and writer Ed Zimmer will be leading a tour and giving out free copies of his new Wyuka guidebook; Flatwater Shakespeare will be performing; there will be a band, a film, a photography exhibit, and even more!

You can get more information here.

P.S. Did you know you can search online for individual grave locations at Wyuka? What a great tool for Lincoln-area history enthusiasts!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Looking for a Good Book about the Great Plains?

Are you looking for a new book to read, but you're not sure which book to pick? Check out Great Plains, Great Books! They offer a series of radio essays from Net Nebraska about good books set on the Great Plains. It has free audio stream, so you can listen any time you want. The books they review all look really good! I'm definitely going to look into Sturgis: Story of the Rally. I've always wondered what goes down at motorcycle rallies.

If you're looking for even more Great Plains reading, the website also has an annotated index of 500 Great Plains books, organized by state and topic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Alexandra Fuller to Speak Sept. 29th

Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, will be giving a talk on the Plains and her new book, The Legend of Colton H. Bryant. This lecture is sponsored by the Plains Humanities Alliance.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 7 pm, Nebraska Union Auditorium, 1400 R St.
Free and Open to the Public

Go to: for more details.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Elephant Engine High Dive Revival

Hello friends! Do you have any exciting plans for tonight? Well, you do now: Elephant Engine High Dive Revival is putting on a show tonight at Creighton University in Omaha! The Elephant Engine High Dive Revival (what does that even mean?!) is a poetry team made up of Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani, Shira Erlichman, and Derrick Brown. These are some quality poets, so I highly recommend going to this show.

Where: Creighton University at the Mike & Josie Harper Center Hixson-Lied Auditorium
When: September 21st, 7:00-10:00
Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5, and non-Creighton students must be at least 19 years old.

Go to: for more details.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Secret Story of Little House on the Prairie

When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite was On the Banks of Plum Creek, because I really wanted a house that was literally dug into the ground like what Laura's family has in the book. I never knew until now, though, that the books were actually a collaboration between Laura and her daughter Rose. The New Yorker recently published a great article called "Wilder Women" by Judith Thurman about the process of writing the books, and the turbulent relationship between Rose and her mother. From the article:

Rose saw her mother as a literary apprentice, not as an artist, even though she had always encouraged Wilder’s writing—first the journalism, then the juveniles; they were a less strenuous and more profitable source of income for an elderly woman than chicken farming. But, whatever art may be, the Little House books fulfill its purpose as defined by Horace: “to entertain and to inform.” Mother and daughter essentially divided that labor.
Were you a fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books? They say in the article that her works are becoming a popular subject of study in midwestern universities. I wonder if UNL will offer a class in On the Banks of Plum Creek anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Omaha LitFest

This weekend, head down to Omaha for some literary fun. From September 17 through 19, the (downtown) Omaha Litfest is happening. This year's theme is “the sordid arts of the cheap paperback.” Here's the schedule of events from the website:

Thursday, Sept 17
Ted Kooser signing and book launch. The University of Nebraska Press and poet Ted Kooser will celebrate the publication of his new memoir, Lights on a Ground of Darkness, with a book signing. (7 pm., W. Dale Clark Library, 215 South 15th St.; Free and open to the public.)

Friday, Sept. 18
pulp & poetry: tales of romance & adventure at the joslyn. An hour-long tour of the Joslyn Museum's permanent collection, led by poets reading their original work inspired by the museum’s paintings and sculptures. (1 pm, Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge St.; Cost: Joslyn admission.)

(downtown) omaha lit fest opening night party
Featuring: twisted lives, tormented loves and the rocking chairity fundraiser.
(6:30 pm-10 pm, W. Dale Clark Library, 215 South 15th St.; Suggested donation of your choice.)

Saturday, Sept. 19
afternoon conversations with writers at KANEKO. Writers and critics discuss the influence of classic pulp fiction (romance, westerns, noir, horror, etc.), and contemporary genre fiction, on their work specifically and the literary culture in general, at KANEKO (1111 Jones St.—11th and Jones), noon to 5 pm. (buy books at Aromas Coffee House; sales provided by the Bookworm.) All panels below are free and open to the public.

12 Noon. Noir at Noon: the comforts of crime in scary times. The unseemly appeal of the criminal element. With: Sean Doolittle (Safer); Harley Jane Kozak (A Date You Can’t Refuse); Evie Rhodes (Expired); and Jonathan Segura (Occupational Hazards). Moderated by Joi Brozek (I’ll See You Soon at Coney Island).

1 pm. Trashy Behavior: the writer’s life in the new economy. The roles and challenges of the publishing industry, newspapers, and memoir in chronicling hard times. With: Belinda Acosta (Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz), Joy Castro (The Truth Book), publicist Lauren Cerand, Jeff Koterba (Inklings), and Amelia María de la Luz Montes (contributor to An Angle of Vision: Women Writers on Their Poor and Working Class Roots).

2 pm. Love &/or Seduction: women writing romance. Women writers discuss writing for and about women. With: Victoria Alexander (The Virgin’s Secret); Kim Louise (Sweet Like Honey); Amelia María de la Luz Montes (editor of the Penguin Classics reissue of Who Would Have Thought It? by Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton); Rachel Shukert (Have You No Shame? And Other Regrettable Stories). Moderated by emily danforth (Lucky Human).

3 pm. Vampires ♥ Zombies: the art and language of horror. The enduring appeal of the bloodsucker and other archetypes of misanthropy. With: Artist Jeremy Caniglia; D. Lee Hatchett (the Black Angel Trilogy); Chloe Neill (Some Girls Bite); Marcus Pelegrimas (Blood Blade); Evie Rhodes (Expired). Moderated by Timothy Schaffert.

4 pm. Wild: mythmaking and the American West. Writing about the legends and realities of the classic and contemporary West. With: Marcus Galloway (The Man from Boot Hill); Stew Magnuson (The Death of Raymond Yellow Thunder: And Other True Stories from the Nebraska Pine-Ridge Border Towns), David Philip Mullins (True Love Versus the Cigar Store Indian).

literary happy hour. An evening at Nomad Lounge, featuring performance by aetherplough. (5 pm, 1013 Jones St.) Also, Fashion Week Finale! Free Fashion Week finale tickets for Lit Fest event-goers.

I'm going on Saturday. I'm most excited about the Wild West talk!

Monday, September 14, 2009

PSR Book Club: American Gods

Here at the Plains Song Review headquarters, we like to read books that really evoke a sense of place on the Great Plains. As you can probably guess, we're fans of authors like Willa Cather and Ted Kooser. But one of my favorite books that explores place on the Great Plains is actually a fantasy novel! It's called American Gods and it's by the author Neil Gaiman.

From the book's website:
Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming -- a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path.
The plot takes them all over America as they see the small towns, big cities, and roadside attractions that give the Midwest its unique flavor. I would recommend it to anyone who's ever driven out of their way to see Carhenge or the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

Stay tuned for Wednesday's post about exciting literary events this weekend!

Friday, September 11, 2009

State Museum Photography Contest!

Today in my Indigenous Peoples class, we took a field trip to the University of Nebraska State Museum, also known as Morrill Hall, and I discovered this great photography contest they're holding!

It's called the University of Nebraska State Museum Wildlife and Nature Photo Contest. Amateur photographers over the age of 18 are eligible to enter. The categories they're looking for are: mammals, birds, other wildlife, nature and people, landscapes and skyscapes, and plant life. You can submit up to two photographs in each category. Mail your photographs or drop them off at Morrill Hall by 4:30 PM on September 30th. Visit for complete information and the entry form.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Julius Caesar at Wyuka

Today, I spent the rainy afternoon reading Julius Caesar for a class. I've read it before, and I've also seen it on stage, so you'd think I wouldn't be so excited about going to see it again this weekend. But I am excited, because Flatwater Shakespeare is performing it in Lincoln's historic Wyuka Cemetery! I can't think of a better place to stage a Shakespeare tragedy than in a graveyard, can you?

When: 7:30 PM, September 10- 13, 17-20, and 24-27
Where: The Swan Theatre at Wyuka, 3600 "O" St. Lincoln, NE

Call (402) 473-2897 for tickets; $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students.

Monday, September 7, 2009

What do football and poetry have in common?

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but football season has begun again here in Nebraska. Walk down any street near campus, and it seems like everyone is wearing red (see right). Some people say that we focus too much on football here, while others say our sports scene is exciting. But one person might surprise you with her opinion on football:
Willa Cather. She wrote:

“It makes one exceedingly weary to hear people object to football because it is brutal. Of course it is brutal. So is Homer brutal, and Tolstoi; that is, they all alike appeal to the crude savage instincts of men. We have not outgrown all our old animal instincts yet, heaven grant we never shall! The moment that, as a nation, we lose brute force, or an admiration for brute force, from that moment, poetry and art are forever dead for us, and we will have nothing but grammar and mathematics left.”

What do you think? Is Willa right? Is our love for poetry motivated by the same thing that makes us watch football? Or do you think she's giving football too much credit?

Quote: Cather, Willa. Hesperian, November 15, 1893, p. 9

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blog Relaunch!

Hello PSR friends! I am pleased to announce the official relaunch of PSR online. We have a new set of bloggers with tons of exciting blog posts all lined up, including a few neat guest bloggers. We’re going to be talking about everything and anything related to culture on the Great Plains, so stay tuned in the next few weeks as we post about topics ranging from ghost stories, to Omaha LitFest, to Willa Cather.

P.S. Make sure to become a fan of our brand-spanking-new Facebook page!