Norma Wilson will celebrate the publication of her new chapbook, “Under the Rainbow: Poems from Mojácar” on Thursday, April 11, at Washington Street Arts Center, 202 Washington St. in Vermillion. Photographs by University of South Dakota Professor John Banasiak and mosaics by Vermillion artist Nancy Losacker will be exhibited.
Spanish tapas and other refreshments will be served at 7 p.m. Wilson will read at 7:30, and a discussion and book-signing will follow the reading.
“Under the Rainbow,” published by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, KY, was inspired by her July 2002 poet’s residency at Fundación Valparaiso, an artists’ retreat at Mojácar in southeastern Spain. The book’s cover image is Banasiak’s photograph of Mojácar.
The mountainous desert land and Mediterranean sea, culture of the region, Federico Garcia Lorca’s poetry, the convergence of U.S. and Spanish history, and Wilson’s dreams of her South Dakota home all influenced the poems.
Commenting on Wilson’s poetry, author Carter Revard said, “The poems in ‘Under the Rainbow’ deepen as we read them, and stay with us afterwards. They speak with truth beauty, and sometimes sly humor, of a loving marriage with the world.”
Poet Carol Hamilton said, “The lovely, lyrical words of her new chapbook … transport us to Mojacár through vivid details of that landscape and its people. Our sharing of her enchanted time there is tenderly grounded in reality with her longing, always for home. She gives us a fusion of the joys and pains of discovering new worlds while still loving the old.”
Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve said, “Wilson’s verse joyfully sings with delight of her brief summer sojourn in Mojácar and shows us her enchantment with a new country people and culture.’
Wilson was born and grew up in Clarksville, TN. In 1971, she moved to Norman, Oklahoma to pursue a Ph.D. in English at the University of Oklahoma. Point Riders Press published her first book of poetry, Wild Iris, in 1978. After completing her doctorate that same year, Wilson accepted a position with the USD English Department and moved to Vermillion. There she taught literature and writing, specializing in Native American literature for 27 years.
Her book “The Nature of Native American Poetry” was published in 2001. She was named Professor Emeritus in 2005.
Since retiring, she has devoted herself to writing poetry. Recent poems have appeared in South Dakota Magazine, Paddlefish, Prairie Fire, Caduceus, South Dakota Review and the anthologies Travelin’ Music and Elegant Rage – poetic tributes to Woody Guthrie. Wilson’s poetry has been exhibited alongside mosaics by Nancy Losacker in the Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center’s P3 exhibits from 2008 through 2013.
The reading, sponsored by Vermillion Area Arts Council is free, and the public is invited. For more information, contact Norma.Wilson@usd.edu.