Kathleen Norris’s books of poetry include The Middle of the World, Little Girls in Church, and The Astronomy of Love. In addition to her best-selling memoirs (all listed as New York Times Notable Books), her most recent prose works include Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and ‘Women’s Work,’ The Virgin of Bennington (a memoir) and a children’s book on Sts. Benedict and Scholastica (in collaboration with the artist Tomie de Paola) are forthcoming. Her honors include grants from the Echoing Green Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. She lives in South Dakota and Honolulu, Hawaii.
Kathleen Norris has touched readers throughout America with her thoughtful and provocative memoirs of faith: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, The Cloister Walk, and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith. She is equally admired for her poetry of engagement with the spiritual world and its landscapes. Journey includes poems from three previous books spanning thirty years, along with a generous selection of new work that continues her radically individual celebration of the sacredness of life.
Although Kathleen Norris’s best-selling Dakota: A Spiritual Geography has brought her to the attention of many thousands of readers, she is first and last a poet. Like Robert Frost, another poet identified with a particular landscape, she can reveal the miraculous in the ordinary, and she writes with clarity, humor, and deep sympathy for her subjects.
The Middle of the World reflects Norris’s strong gifts as a storyteller and poet of place. The locales are New York City, where she formerly lived, and South Dakota west of the Missouri River, where she is business manager of a family farm that raises wheat, sunflowers, and Hereford cattle. “The poems are about these places,” she writes, “and the more or less imagined lives in them: and also about family and inheritance; it was inheritance that moved me to South Dakota. Some of the poems are about faith: my own ideas as well as the traditional religious faith that is a thread running through my family history, both enhancing lives and running them.”