Poems for the Moment | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Poems for the Moment

Prairie Public asked North Dakota writers to select one of their poems to serve as a commentary on the current point in history. Poems for the Moment is a broadcast and podcast series and funded by a grant from the ND Humanities Council.

Carol Kapaun Ratchenski - "A Place Made of Space"

Nov 24, 2020

Scroll down for more about Carol Kapaun Ratchenski.

A Place Made of Space

A place made of space
Still so wrong to believe
No mystery here

A poem calls me home where
My secrets are held, buried under
A bed made of fears

Near to wild flowers, and rivers
Your memory will call you
Home to this love poem

A Time made of longing
Of postponed and closed for now
And find us in the clouds

Disembodied voices
Call me away from
Sunset, sunrise, snowy owl dreams

Madelyn Camrud

Nov 19, 2020
NDSU Press

Madelyn Camrud has lived all but nine months of her life in North Dakota. She received degrees in visual arts and creative writing from The University of North Dakota. She taught in the English department before taking a position at the North Dakota Museum of Art, where she served as director of Audience Development. Camrud's poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Kalliope, Painted Bride Quarterly, Descant, and others. Two of her poems were chosen to air on Garrison Keillor's "Writers Almanac." In the spring of 2005, North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode named Camrud an Associate Poet Laureate of North Dakota.  She has published two books of poetry with New Rivers Press, “This House is Full of Cracks” and “Oddly Beautiful”,  and “Songs of Horses and Lovers,” from the NDSU Press.

Denise Lajimodiere

Nov 3, 2020

Denise Lajimodiere has a Covid-19 poem --listen or see it below.  Also, scroll down for information about her new book. 

We Carry the Last Century                                  

My father’s mother died
in the flu pandemic of 1918.
I know little about her,
as a child she survived
Indian wars, treaties, starvation,
forced to live on a newly
formed reservation.

Larry Woiwode

Oct 23, 2020
Larry Woiwode

Larry Woiwode is North Dakota's Poet Laureate.  From his celebrated novel "Beyond the Bedroom Wall" through his publication in top national literary magazines, his prose and poetry have continually drawn appreciation and awards.

We asked him to give us the text of what he recited for this piece.  His first recitation was from a poem called "20" and here is what he sent.


Shadd Piehl -- "Masks"

Sep 29, 2020
Shadd Piehl

A fifth-generation North Dakotan, Shadd Piehl’s poetry has appeared in the anthologies, Between Earth and Sky: Contemporary Cowboy Poets, Maverick Western Verse, Brushstrokes and Balladeers, and the magazines Aluminum Canoe, Pemmican, Red Weather, and Dry Crik Review, among others. A private investigator and adjunct English instructor, Shadd lives along Crown Butte Creek in the Heart River valley west of Mandan with his family.


Believe me it is much better to hide;

Jamie Parsley


(after Bertold Brecht)

After these
dark times

will we
still sing?

Yes, we
will sing.

We will sing
loudly and clearly

about these
dark times.

Emily Vieweg -- "Jungle Gym"

Sep 28, 2020

Text of the poem is below.

More about Emily here.
and her new book here.

Jungle Gym 

I feel like I’m failing – 

galloping down a metal slide, 

thighs burning from the sticking –


Remember this feeling:

It is 98 degrees in St. Louis

in August and you are just trying 

to play at recess

when The Gorilla dares you to climb