During a writing residency at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts near the Mississippi River, Kirsten Dierking, a poet and humanities instructor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, thought a lot about water and the changeable nature of time.
The result is “Tether,” her third volume of poetry, published recently by Spout Press, a Minneapolis publisher.
“I’m trying to capture those moments when time seems to slow and still; the spaces between waking and sleeping, the middle of a long, hot season, the feeling of floating on water,” she said. “But I’m also trying to understand those parts of our lives that flash by and how we face the relentless onrush of the future.”
The poems are grounded in "Minnesota" topics – winter, a vacation week at the cabin and the Mississippi River. Water is a strong theme in the book.
“I have poems about rivers, streams, lakes, the ocean,” Dierking said. “Part of this probably just comes from living in the land of 10,000 lakes. But I was particularly inspired by a writing residency and by working at Anoka-Ramsey. Both of these places sit right on the banks of the Mississippi. And I often get writing ideas when I'm out on the water paddling a kayak.”
Being an active artist helps Dierking bring a creative dimension into the classroom and demonstrates to students that contemporary art is being created now.
“They see that poetry is not just something they are reading about in a textbook,” she said.
Dierking has taught humanities courses at Anoka-Ramsey Community College since 2004. In 2011, Kirsten received the NEA's Excellence in the Academy Award for the Art of Teaching, and in 2009 she received the Building Bridges Award in Education from the Islamic Resource Group of Minnesota. She also is the recipient of a 2010 McKnight Artist Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board grant for literature, a Loft Literary Center Career initiative grant and a SASE/Jerome grant.
Dierking’s two other books of poetry are “Northern Oracle,” (Spout Press, 2007), and “One Red Eye,” (Holy Cow! Press, 2001). Her poems have been heard on public radio’s The Writer's Almanac and have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Garrison Keillor's Good Poems, American Places and To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present.
“Tether” is available online through Small Press Distribution, Spout Press, at local bookstores or any bookstore, which can order it.