Ode to a Bluff Country Artist
In the spring of 2023, poet Su Hwang led an Artist in Residency program, through Lanesboro Arts, conducting workshops with area writers. Over five workshops, participants explored the foundations of poetry and were asked to create poems using a broad range of poetic structures. The residency concluded with a public reading at the St. Mane Theatre. One of the readings that night was by Su Hwang, who wrote an ode to one of the participants, southeast Minnesota artist and poet Diane Knight.
Ode to a Bluff Country Artist (for Diane Knight)
In a renovated bank along the banks of the Root River that serpentines
eighty miles through the Driftless, a tributary of the Upper Mississippi
where the glacial melt never quite kissed this part of our thirsty earth,
across the lane from a pie shop in a city of sixty-seven residents since
the last census––an artist scans her morning’s memory of the sacred
cottonwood in the floodplain forest at the altar of watercress, nettles,
fiddleheads & other tiny plants that I, too, cannot name––gently tracing
sinews on bark & leafy veins to mirror the movement of water &
wind as a hummingbird hovers then vanishes into the waning light like
an incomplete thought. But nothing is wasted. Everything matters because
everything is already here, swaying with the rustle of branches & glinting
in the river that baptizes all living things, bewildered & searching for
a kind of peace that nests in winter, quiet & exacting, as the artist spins
splendor into the ripples of sound & color as the expectant glow of night
brings in the applause of stars made visible from her exquisite line of sight.
© Su Hwang, 2023
To learn more about Diane Knight, read the article The University of Diane. Visit her Root River Current poetry post Those Darn Feelings to read or listen to Diane present two poems; two additional poems and examples of her original artwork can be found here.
Su Hwang (she/her) is a poet, activist, stargazer, and the author of Bodega (Milkweed Editions), which received the 2020 Minnesota Book Award in poetry and was named a finalist for the 2021 Kate Tufts Discovery Award in Poetry. Born in Seoul, Korea, she was raised in New York, then called the Bay Area home. She now lives in the Twin Cities.