Prairie spaces: a discussion of the representation of space, place and home in Field Requiem (Carcanet, 2021) by Sheri Benning and The Weather in Normal (Station Hill Press, New York, 2018) by Carrie Etter.

Poetry Owl

Note: This post is a slightly revised version of an essay written for the course,Place in Modern Poetry and Prose: Locality, Environment, Community andExile,run by Oxford Department for Continuing Education and taught by Giles Goodland.A useful video of Sheri Benning talking about her book can be found at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBtJpcKoTLEandhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5yZPj8U4K4

The promise of the New World to those arriving from the old was the possibility of space, of horizons thrillingly distant, in the prairie lands of the USA and Canada. Sheri Benning is a Canadian poet who writes about Saskatchewan while Carrie Etter, from the USA, sets her poems in Illinois.

Etter traces the etymology of ‘prairie’ in the first poem in the second section ofThe Weather in Normallinking it to Arcadia and eclogue, before declaring that ‘Illinoisians were never raisedfor hills’

prairiethe horizon the veryedge of the world[1]

For her, the prairie…

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