In the summer of 2004 I spent six weeks in the upper Midwest and Canada studying the literature and history of the Great Plains with 20 other teachers in a National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship program. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. All I knew: I wanted to immerse myself into something I loved — and at the time it was the writing of Wallace Stegner, Willa Cather, Wendell Barry and William Stafford (and still is).
I came away with a renewed appreciation for the stark beauty of the upper Midwest. I learned to respect the immigrants who walked off the edge of their bordered lives into a new nation and a boundless prairie.