Bloodroot: Indiana Poems
Comments on Bloodroot
"The test of 'poetry
of place' is whether it feels perfectly familiar to a reader who lives
there. I'm a southern Indiana
native who feels right at home in Norbert Krapf's
poems." —James Alexander Thom
"Norbert Krapf is one of our distinguished and moving American poets.
The new poems seem among his best." —Robert Phillips
COMMENTS ON NORBERT KRAPF’S INDIANA
Somewhere in Southern Indiana:
Poems of Midwestern Origins (1993)
Norbert Krapf is blessed with the haunting beauty of his
childhood and youth in rural Indiana.
Family and friends crowd upon him, gentle men and women, hard working
farmers straight out of gracious but impoverished Germany of
the nineteenth century. They are his roots in being, and he pays them
deep, discerning love and gratitude for who they were and are to him still,
strengthened in himself as man and poet because of them. Somewhere in
Southern Indiana should be read of a quiet evening, joining Norbert
Krapf in his memories of the once living, who handed on to him their spirit
and sustaining love with which he was raised to carry on unto the
generations yet to come. It is a book of rural psalms.
winner, Bollingen Prize in Poetry
Those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the
small-town Midwest will perhaps respond most immediately to Krapf’s sensuous evocation of the Hoosier Schwarzwald, the giant tulip poplars, shagbarks, oak,
and beech, woods still sufficient to get lost in, where Krapf feels the
call of the wild, from which “No one has ever been able to / track me
down.” And nobody who hailed from those parts will fail to recognize that
Midwestern passion, the beloved hardwood thud of basketballs, and the long
author of Darwin’s Ark (IUP)
Norbert Krapf has been writing strong poems about the
things that most matter for some years, and it is fine to see them together
in collections. He is one of the best of the poets who have emerged
in recent years, and the publication of his work is cause for celebration.
Editor of Heartland:
Poets of the Midwest and Heartland II
With poet David Ignatow you may
call Krapf’s work “a book of rural psalms” that
celebrates the chains of generations past and still unborn.
Eberhard Reichmann, German Life
With its emphasis on the specificities of a place and its
people, Krapf’s poetry has deep affinities with
the local color tradition of American literature. But like Kentucky poet
Wendell Berry, Krapf’s forte is in recognizing
the spiritual interaction between a people and their place…. For Krapf, the
relationship is that of a son who has been much blessed through the
sacredness of place and familial love.
The Sycamore Review
One place comprehended can make us understand other
places better,” Eudora Welty writes in one of her essays. Welty’s
statement finds ample support in Norbert Krapf’s Somewhere
in Southern Indiana. Although these poems are deeply rooted in
the landscape of southern Indiana
and the lives of Krapf’s German-Catholic
ancestors, their ultimate concerns are what Faulkner called the “old
universal truths” of “love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and
The mix of sunny and dark images places the poet in a Frostian tradition as well as a Whitmananian
one; Krapf’s poems reverberate with the mystery
of human character at the core of his family roots.
These are strong poems about things that matter….they are
specific to a region, yet they reveal in their fine language and vision
what universal may be found in the specifics of the world. And that
is what makes for good poetry in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Academic Library Book Review
Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany (1997)
In half a lifetime of writing history and poetry about
the Catholic communities of the Jasper [Indiana] area and their German
antecedents, Krapf has shown a sense of place and ethnic identity that
radiates out to universal brotherhood. In Blue-Eyed Grass, his most
personal and yet his most magnanimous work, he reminds us of the
all-American Walt Whitman, who remained "a part of all that I have met,"
and of Wendell Berry, who sings of his beloved Kentucky that he has seen
the worst and best of humankind there.
Dan Carpenter, Indianapolis Star
Norbert Krapf is a poet-historian. In this volume, Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany,
he has undertaken a journey to the land of his Indiana immigrant ancestors. Finding his
roots, Krapf enriches his own and his children's lives, and ours, too.
Rev. Theodore Hesburgh,
University of Notre Dame
The Country I Come From (2002), nominated for the
Not since Theodore Roethke has any poet handled so
successfully the subject of youth and adolescence.
William Jay Smith, former U.S. Poet
This book is about the cocoons he
has never shed, and it is a natural history in verse, a collage of smells
and sensations and scenes from an elemental life seething with biological
and cultural mystery. // The author’s mission: to draw, from the welter of
English and German and Miami and birdsong, a language of his own to do
justice to his country—“a voice which could reach back to include those who
came before.” // He succeeds admirably in this moving and evocative
collection, which is graced with a stunning cover landscape portrait from
the lens of noted Bloomington
photographer Darryl Jones.
This sense of unsought belonging is symptomatic in the
poems of Norbert Krapf’s collection The
Country I Come From. The images seem rooted in autobiography—as Krapf
is a native of the Indiana
territory he re-explores here. Throughout the book, the poet looks
back on the places he grew up, and moves beyond his personal memory to
touch on the history of the land and its earliest people… // All of this
beauty and memory does not come without a price. There are painful observations
here as well as renewing ones. In poems like “What We Lost in Southern Indiana” and “Mississinewa
River Lament” the speaker considers the cultural and natural heritage we
have lost through poorly considered planning, misunderstanding and greed… . [The] poems…are loyal in their presentation of
natural beauty and the potential and despair of people who live close to
the earth. The poet is aware that this way of life is fading and
changing, but that he owes his life to it and must seek to preserve this simplicity
in his own way.
After Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany
(1997) and Bittersweet Along the Expressway, Norbert Krapf has with
this latest collection returned to the place which provided the theme for
his first major volume, Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of
Midwestern Origins (1993). His writings of this decade have secured him a
distinctive place in contemporary American poetry.”
World Literature Today
Looking for God’s Country (2005)
Norbert Krapf has always spoken eloquently, but without
pretension, of spirit and home in his poems. LFGC, which blends
German memories with the American heartland, may be his best collection.
Native American author
Never easy or facile, his poems embrace not only this
world, but the world beyond this world; not only the New World, but the Old World. He deserves high praise.
Robert Phillips, poet and critic
Norbert Krapf’s poems speak
from the heart of the heartland, a vision of community, family, and kinship
across time. These are poems about memory, legacy, and lives.
Krapf has the gift to find the delight, and the sacred, in the ordinary,
which is also the extraordinary.
Robert Morgan, poet and novelist
Krapf’s poems work with familiar subjects and
situations, and often assume a plainness as
profound as the great Hoosier game, as in “Barnyard Hoops.” Universalizing
the Hoosier commonplace may be one of Krapf’s
most worthy missions. // A kind of longing for a grounded self centers the
poet’s deeper concerns, and the poet remains strongly connected to his
Jim Powell, Nuvo
Invisible Presence: A Walk through Indiana in
Photographs and Poems (2006), with Darryl Jones
Ranging from haiku-like maxims to brawny catalogues
reminiscent of Whitman, by turns wry and soulful, these poems link the
exterior landscape of pumpkins and pumps with the interior landscape of
memory and emotion. Like "Corn Syllables," which ends as "a
hymn / of praise," all of these poems may be read as psalms, hymns of
wonder and delight. Those with an ear for American poetry will hear echoes
not only of Whitman but also of Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Sandburg, and
Roethke, and those with an ear for poetry from across the sea will hear
echoes of Blake, Lawrence, and Rilke...We should be grateful to Darryl
Jones and Norbert Krapf for helping us to see spiritual presence not merely
in all things Hoosier but in all things.
Scott Russell Sanders, Foreword
It’s rare and good to read such intense thought and
feeling compressed into tight, neat packages of one-syllable words. Both
the poet and photographer have advanced into a new, free level of
James Alexander Thom, novelist
Two artists have combined to create Invisible Presence,
a book lovely enough to grace coffee tables worldwide, with images and
words that will make Hoosiers see their home in a new light. Renowned
photographer Darryl D. Jones manipulates Polaroid film to capture lush,
impressionistic scenes—primarily rural—from around the state, which are
accompanied by the spare but thoughtful verse of Norbert Krapf, a Jasper
native currently residing in Indy.
In the beautiful and elegant book, "Invisible Presence:
A Walk through Indiana in Photographs and
Poems" (Quarry Books, 2006), Norbert Krapf has written wistful homages about Indiana
scenes taken by photographer Darryl D. Jones.
Norbert Krapf is an extraordinary poet of “place,” as
well as a master of the short meditation. His roots lie in Indiana, and he has
returned to it brilliantly throughout his career. It’s no wonder
that his collaboration with artistic photographer Darryl Jones...is a match
made in heaven. This is a gorgeously rich book, a seamless collaboration
capturing the spiritual undercurrent that flows through the fields, woods,
and towns of Indiana,
and in a greater sense, around us all.
Invisible Presence is the kind of book that satisfies on two levels:
it is an aesthetically pleasing collection of artfully manipulated
photographs that grace the pages like impressionist works; and it is a
gathering of eloquent, sometimes spare poetic meditations which enhance
these visions. Focusing on the pastoral and the spiritual, in both image
and language, Darryl D. Jones and Norbert Krapf have created a literary and
artistic homage to Indiana.