Southwest by Midwest by Norbert Krapf


From the first poem in Southwest by Midwest, “Prolog: The Pot Taking Shape” to the last,  “Epilog: At the Center of the Circle,” former Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf weaves a delicate, prescient tale of New Mexican and Arizonian indigenous aesthetics and poetry, its artists and the universe in clear, gentle and tactile language. Krapf shows not only a literary prowess but a consideration for cultural nuances not his own. With the last lines of his last poem, “You too make love and music / that can save us all. You too / live and breathe at the center,” he connects us back to the beginning: to language and ourselves. A beautiful book. —Shonda Buchanan


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 108
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: May, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-82-4


Norbert Krapf’s Southwest by Midwest is a masterful work about dualities: Midwest and Southwest; poetry and visual art; spirit and flesh. Krapf’s poems feature characters from the Southwest who come to life with vivid imagery. In fact, the landscape itself becomes a character, animated by the poet’s fine eye for detail. Throughout the volume, Krapf’s poems are enhanced by photos of Jody Naranjo’s pots that are so remarkable the reader can almost hear the haunting tunes of Native flutes. Overlaying all of this is a spirituality that the poet invokes from the beginning with “a hymn we begin to hear,” and finishes in the epilog, where we, as readers, are invited to join an eternal circle, “to live and breathe at the center.” —Linda Neal Reising

Southwest by Midwest, which pairs images of southwestern contemporary Native pottery with original poems, is a truly rewarding book for a number of reasons. First of all, and this is not always the case with such collaborations, the pictures and the poetry are equally powerful. They truly complement each other. For another, Norbert Krapf—who has long been one of my favorite writers— shows a deep respect for and appreciation of not just the art involved in those pots, but the living indigenous cultures behind, around and within them. Unlike most non-Native writers, he understands that a Dineh or Pueblo pot is not just a static piece of art, but a living being, imbued with spirit. Rather than reflecting on a bygone past, he celebrates the continuing vibrancy of contemporary southwestern Native life. Further, the poems are luminous in their accessible clarity and controlled emotional intensity. I highly recommend this collection. —Joseph Bruchac


Light Follows Me

Light follows me everywhere
inside this casita and outside,
comes in through windows,
bounces off white walls,
lies down on pine floors.

When I drink water I swallow
light, which passes through me
into water. It turns me into
a shadow that lies down.

It wakes me in the morning
as I open my eyes to the east
and feel it on my face. I open
the door and step into it

on a wooden balcony facing
mountains that surround me
and hear prayers streaming
from my mouth for those
I love who are my light.

May I one day transform
into light that shines on others
from above and also within
when they read my poems.


Norbert KrapfJasper native and former Indiana poet Laureate NORBERT KRAPF’s previous poetry volumes include Bloodroot: Indiana Poems, a retrospective collection of 175 poems, Indiana Hill Country Poems, Catholic Boy Blues, about surviving abuse in childhood by a priest, and The Return of Sunshine, about his Colombian-German-American grandson, Peyton. His poems and prose have appeared in over eighty anthologies, including Heartland II: Poems of the Midwest, and hundreds of times in magazines and journals. His Homecomings: A Writer’s Memoir, a sequel to his The Ripest Moments: A Southern Indiana Childhood, is forthcoming.

He has received the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Glick Indiana Author Award, and a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis. He has a poem in stained-glass at the Indianapolis International Airport, poems on IndyGo Buses, and Garrison Keillor read his poems on The Writer’s Almanac. With pianist-composer Monika Herzig, he released a poetry and jazz CD, Imagine, and he collaborates with Indiana bluesman Gordon Bonham. He has also collaborated with Indiana photographers Darryl Jones, David Pierini, and Richard Fields. Since retiring in 2004 as a Professor of English at Long Island University, where he taught for thirty-four years and for eighteen directed the C.W. Post Poetry Center, he has lived with his family in downtown Indianapolis. He loves to spend time in New Mexico and Arizona.

Additional information

Weight 7.2 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .375 in