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Ode to a Bluff Country Artist

By Su Hwang, May 25, 2023

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.  


Artist and poet Diane Knight lives in Whalan, Minnesota. She is author of Putting Down Words, a book of poems and doodles.

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. 

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