Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Kathleene West


Death of a Regional Poet
Copyright © 1996
by Kathleene West
Main-Traveled Roads, 1996
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West memorializes Nebraska's prairie landscape in irregular stretches that pan out with awesome irregularities on the horizon of the life of her heroine in a schoolbus hurdling the bumps of poetic terror in Nebraska territory. Cataloging famous Nebraskans like Buffalo Bill and Bob Kerry, West sets her heroine (named Alpha as all good beginnings would have it) among them — a meteoric rise and fall in the political landscape, Alpha shooting through the prairie universe to stardom. — William Slaymaker, Nebraska Territory

The Summer of the Sub-comandante
Copyright © 2002
by Kathleene West
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The Summer of the Sub-Comandante by Kathleene West moves the reader physically and emotionally from Viet Nam to Latin America to Northern Europe with an uneasy home base in the United States. West's characters are peripatetic, crossing and retreating from geographical and political borders as well as the borders of the heart. They may seem elusive, but they are sharply-drawn, appearing to be more comfortable skidding through the jungles of Viet Nam on a motorcycle or advancing into a Chiapas rain forest to find a revolutionary comandante than with social encounters in living rooms, restaurants and fenced yards. Watch them advance into the no-fly zones of relationships where love and war are equally devastating. Through her characters' observations and perceptions West establishes a wry, often-comic, ironic tone that sharply captures the fin de siècle dance of destruction and regeneration. As her characters fall-or jump-into situations ranging from the embarrassing to the perilous, West searches for truth in our confusing world. The Summer of the Sub-Comandante ultimately values truth more than comfort. Kathleene West's enactment of the most difficult, even dangerous, situations shimmer with her poetic language and inimitable humor. — from the publisher

Water Witching
Copyright © 1984
by Kathleene West
Copper Canyon
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Kathleene West's Water Witching is a book from a diviner, a poet who explores her environment for the necessities of survival, a search that began with her first major collection poems, Land Bound. West juxtaposes rhythms from nursery rhymes, rural-school songs and traditional verse forms with her own music as she looks at the world about her, a contemporary world with the trappings of zip codes and digital clocks, a place that at any moment West may choose to step beyond, to find the "Allegory in the Kitchen" or meditate on "Antediluvian Love." — from the publisher

Her exuberant love of language combines with a fine intelligence into poems that celebrate the ceremonies of our lives. — Tom McGrath

West repeatedly proves that she is capable of taking chances and succeeding both in the lives of her poems and in her language. — CutBack Reviews

She is best when a wry edge creeps into her poems, and when she offers us glimpses of real resilience. — Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer

If one wants to gain a clearer sense of what contemporary plains literature is all about, this is a good place to start. — Prairie Schooner

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Nebraska Center for Writers