Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Mark Sanders


Before We Lost Our Ways
Copyright © 1996
by Mark Sanders
Hurãkan/College of the Mainland

Mark Sanders' poems embrace the diverse worlds from which he has grown — the Great Plains and the geographies of family, history, and loss. Yet, there exists here a stubbornness to persist against ongoing extinctions. These poems do not exist in the vacuum of province; rather, they occur upon the common earth of the common person who has lived and felt too much what it means to have lived. — from the jacket

I have envied Mark Sanders the ability to say exactly what needs to be said then stop. That is what we all want ultimately to be able to do. He makes poetry seem easy. The poems in this volume are not easy poems: they are the blood and guts of a poet who knows art is important to this life, even though most people "are extensions of their chairs" ("The Oasis Bar"). — Jim Barnes, Chariton Review

Mark Sanders' poems "build on hard rock, on irreducible and often brutal fact, but they aren't afraid to take to the air." — Don Welch, Reynolds Poetry Chair, University of Nebraska — Kearney

These well-crafted poems reflect a voice both fresh and direct, a voice that takes the reader into the poet's life openly and intimately and without apology. Mark Sanders holds nothing back; his poems transect an impressive gamut of attitudes, themes, and emotions. — William Kloefkorn, Nebraska State Poet

Sanders is destined to become one of the best writers to come out of the Great Plains. His poems are both moving and intelligent. — Dave Etter, author of Alliance, Illinois

Mark Sanders' latest collection of poetry, Before We Lost Our Ways, is sad and personal, filled with loss, doubt, failed dreams, and what Sanders calls "ongoing extinctions." Its literal setting is the plains world of the flatlander (this is in turn the title of one of the poems in the collection) in which "Yearbooks and trophies pass on to attics" and "Ghosts of elm trees ... spook the emerald lawns with shade." Yet, Before We Lost Our Ways is also the work of a poet who never loses sight of the ordinary or quotidian, which is where he'd prefer to live — if he could. ... To be sure, this is a strong collection of poems. ... — Samuel J Umland, Midwest Quarterly

Conditions of Grace
Copyright © 2011
by Mark Sanders
Stephen F Austin University Press

Mark Sanders' Conditions of Grace: New and Selected Poems brings together the best work from a thirty-year career. These selections include powerful lyrics and narratives, metaphorical and fearless observations of the landscapes of region and heart, and a music that is at both subtle and alluring. — from the publisher

Mark Sanders writes, he says, in “plain speech for a plain people.” But the complexities of his social and familial involvements, his awareness of self and others, mean that the lives rendered here are anything but plain. They are ornery, funny, bedeviled, passionate, private, and performative — I mean, the people and Sanders' poems. This poet is of the same important tribe as Ted Kooser and Jo McDougall, Dave Etter and Jim Barnes, in tune with a type of Midwestern and democratic rhetoric — "plain" but dramatic, public but precise. — David Baker, editor of Kenyon Review

Mark Sanders is a keen observer, a careful translator of experience and an archivist of the actual. He can "turn sharp on a country thought" or channel Wallace Stevens, and his Conditions of Grace displays and utters a vital world of hawks, horses and humane humans either wrestling with sorrow or "downing shots of Comfort." His poems are deft and significant, and I’m betting most readers who find their way to this book will not be eager to find their way out. Instead, they’ll want to join Sanders as, "We stand our furious ground." — RT Smith, editor of Shenandoah

A Dissimulation of Birds
Copyright © 2002
by Mark Sanders
Crane Editions
How to Buy

Mark Sanders' first collection of short stories explores Nebraska's Plains and its people in terms that are as uncompromising as the territory itself: brutal, cold, relentless, and painfully beautiful. Sanders chooses not to romanticize, as so often Plains writers do. Clearly, the author loves the land and its inhabitants, but to soften them or to transform their likenesses into something more suitable is not Sanders' mode of acceptance. Mean is good if mean is true. Indeed, a hard land builds hard truth: in love and hate, in murder or self-defeat, in acceptance and in betrayal. Sanders hones sharp the edge of his fiction and does not apologize if such truth cuts deep our sensibilities. — from the publishere

Here in the Big Empty
Copyright © 2006
by Mark Sanders
Backwaters Press
Here in the Big Empty is the second full-length collection of poetry by Mark Sanders. Sanders, a native of Nebraska, has published numerous poems, essays, and short stories in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, River Teeth, Poetry East, The South Dakota Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, Poetry Wales, The North Dakota Quarterly, among others. His first collection of poetry, Before We Lost Our Ways, appeared in 1996; a collection of short stories, A Dissimulation of Birds, appeared in 2002. He currently teaches English courses at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho. Individuals wishing to order Here in the Big Empty may do so by sending your name and address to the publisher with payment. Price per copy is $16.00, postage-paid. Send check or money order payable to: The Backwaters Press, c/o Greg Kosmicki, publisher, 3502 North 52nd St, Omaha, NE 68104-3506. — from the publisher

On Common Ground: William Kloefkorn,
Ted Kooser, Greg Kuzma, and Don Welch
Copyright © 1983
by Mark Sanders & JV Brummels
Sandhills P

Besides living in Nebraska, about the only other attribute the poets share is that of dedication to their craft. In the process of expressing this dedication, to paraphrase from Greg Kuzma's interview, none of them has dimmed his responsiveness to the world, repressed the vital energies of things, or grown immune to his surroundings. The essays in the book vary widely in perceptivity and illumination — a few are excellent — but even the less helpful ones offer new perspectives on the poetry discussed. On the other hand, the interviews are invaluable. They reveal the poets' attitudes towards what they create; appreciation of the poems is enhanced by this knowledge. The condition of poetry today is described and evaluated in the interviews. Among the issues disussed are politics and bureacracy in the world of poetry, granstmanship ("proetry"), the rewards and hazards of publishing, poets' responsibilities and difficulties in the workaday world, the propriety of appointing a State Poet, and the usefulness of poetry. — Steve Norman, Nebraska Library Assocation Quarterly, Summer 1984

The Plains Sense of Things:
Eight Poets from Outstate Nebraska
Copyright © 1997
by Mark Sanders
Sandhills P, 1997

The Plains Sense of Things 2:
Eight Poets from Outstate Nebraska
Copyright © 1997
by Mark Sanders
Sandhills P, 1997

The poets included in this collection range from life-long residents, the late Larry Holland and JV Brummels, an out-of-state transplant, Shirley Buettner, and Nebraskans in exile, Mark Sanders and Kathleen West [also in-state Nebraskans Neil Harrison, Barbara Schmitz, and Don Welch]. ... Most of the poets in Plains Sense sprang from rural and small urban settings. Many were educated in the larger cities before returning to what they love: the land, the space, the freedom. — Bruce R Nelson, Nebraska Territory

The poems ... seem to open naturally to the succeeding ones and evoke the "spare beauty" of Nebraska, curse or bless the weather, and above all, show the ability of men and women of the plains to "endure" and "lean into" daily life and adversity without complaint. — Jo Taylor, Nebraska Territory

The Plains Sense of Things 3:
A Tribute to Larry Holland
Copyright © 1999
by Mark Sanders
Sandhills P, 1999

When Larry Holland died in a car crash in March 1999, his death rocked Nebraska's literary community. Holland, a widely respected poet and essayist, ... helped establish the Elkhorn Review and the Nebraska Poets and Writers Festival, the forerunner of the Nebraska Literature Festival. It is fitting that the third installment of Sandhills Press's Plains Sense series should be a tribute to Holland. ... Holland comes across as modest and earthy in his writings and what others have written of him. To have so many of one's peers gathered in praise and celebration would have made Larry blush. — Bruce R Nelson, Nebraska Territory

redball.gif Bibliography
redball.gif Selection
redball.gif Buy a Book
redball.gif Mark Sanders's Page
redball.gif Writers On-Line

The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers