BOOK REVIEW: The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets

Review by David Z. Drees

Who doesn’t want to be the first to discover something? What about someone? What about forty-three someones? Published by WSC Press in 2017, The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets is a significant collection that provides a unique opportunity to its readers: a chance to nibble at the words that will pave the future of Nebraska poetry.

In eighty-seven poems, forty-three poets paint every corner of Nebraska; from the “neon scrabbles/of the Waffle House marquee” in metropolitan Omaha, to the “chicken coop, two guys/ in a rowboat, livestock, an old woman on a bicycle, all accompanied/ by light orchestral music” of the rural territories, The Flat Water Stirs is as balanced a poetic portrait of the state as one is liable to get. Perhaps its most unique attribute of the collection is the sense of unity, an artistic bond between poems and poets, a shared appreciation of home. Our home.

Our renowned Nebraska State Poet Twyla Hansen has described the poems in The Flat Water Stirs as “fresh, spirited, colorful, rough, elevated, inspired, direct, humorous, and/or disturbing.” In other words, if there are any, this collection is as Nebraska as red plaid, muddy boots, and dollar-draw tap beer in “a bar older than everyone in it.” It is a collection written to intrigue, bridging time with a loyalty to place in a way not seen since Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry. The bridging of generations, the timelessness of “waking up,/ going to work, paying bills, and doing it/ all over again,” and the youthful yearning, the mosquitoes, “making us itch the skin we didn’t yet want to grow out of” flurry together into a collection sure to invite and encapsulate, to grip the reader and hold them, to welcome them to Nebraska, where like our words, “the wind wraps its howl/ around us all.”

The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets
Perfect Paperback: 148 pages
WSC Press (August 8, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-0991013982