Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

Dakota A Spiritual Geography A beautiful meditation on life in the Great Plains from award winning author and poet Kathleen Norris Kathleen Norris invites readers to experience rich moments of prayer and presence in Dakota a tim

  • Title: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
  • Author: Kathleen Norris
  • ISBN: 9780618127245
  • Page: 375
  • Format: Paperback
  • A beautiful meditation on life in the Great Plains from award winning author and poet Kathleen Norris Kathleen Norris invites readers to experience rich moments of prayer and presence in Dakota, a timeless tribute to a place in the American landscape that is at once desolate and sublime, harsh and forgiving, steeped in history and myth In thoughtful, discerning prose, shA beautiful meditation on life in the Great Plains from award winning author and poet Kathleen Norris Kathleen Norris invites readers to experience rich moments of prayer and presence in Dakota, a timeless tribute to a place in the American landscape that is at once desolate and sublime, harsh and forgiving, steeped in history and myth In thoughtful, discerning prose, she explores how we come to inhabit the world we see, and how that world also inhabits us Her voice is a steady assurance that we can, and do, chart our spiritual geography wherever we go.

    One thought on “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography”

    1. Kathleen Norris and her husband David Dwyer, both poets, left a thriving New York City arts community to live in South Dakota in 1974. Norris' family had inherited her grandmother's farm in Lemmon, a small town in northwestern South Dakota. Although they had originally planned on staying for only a few years, the couple decided to make it their permanent residence. In addition to their writing, they picked up a succession of part-time jobs to carve out a living.Dakota: A Spiritual Geography is a [...]

    2. “Nature, in Dakota, can indeed be an experience of the holy.”I ran across a review of Dakota on , and couldn’t believe I had not heard of this book before. As a native North Dakotan and someone who is on a faith journey herself, Dakota seemed to be a must read for me.The author, Kathleen Norris, has had an interesting journey in her own right. She was born in Washington DC, but spent summers in South Dakota with her grandparents. Eventually, she found her calling as a writer (poetry, to be [...]

    3. My third from Norris, one of the most profound spiritual writers I know. Although this is more niche than Amazing Grace and The Cloister Walk, its lessons about slowing down and savoring the peace of solitude and wide open spaces are still widely applicable. In moving from New York City to her grandparents’ home in Lemmon, South Dakota, Norris left behind career and cultural opportunities but gained a healthier pace of life and sense of community. She also recognizes the challenges of small-to [...]

    4. I came across this book while doing some research for work, and when I told my boss I was interested in reading it, she generously loaned me her copy. I've always had a bit of a love affair with the Dakotas -- the vast openness and the miles upon miles between towns speaks to both the recluse and the small-town girl in me. In this book, Kathleen Norris has collected her essays about Dakota (she lived in S. Dakota but repeatedly refers to both Dakotas as just "Dakota"). I could appreciate her ins [...]

    5. Magnificent as always. I'll read anything by Kathleen Norris. She's my spiritual guidance counselor when I need her the most.

    6. I read this several years ago and am rereading it. I was born and raised a Catholic and have since fallen away from the Church. Norris, as a Protestant, made me look again at the faith of Catholicism versus the Church of Catholicism (two very different things). While she does not say this explicitly in this book, for non-Catholic readers, the Church is a centuries old corporation of power and politics. The faith is just that: faith. It is what doesn't get practiced by the Vatican which tries to [...]

    7. This is frequent re-read of mine, just as any Kathleen Norris. One of the reasons for that is she is so inherently calming that I find myself returning to her contemplative and thoughtful writing time and again. Dakota is the first of Norris' non-fiction spiritual books and is as much a reflection on the Great Plain as it is on Christian Benedictine contemplation. By marriage, I have become acquainted with the Prairies (further north and east than Norris in Manitoba which is, after all, long gra [...]

    8. Ok, so I'm on a Kathleen Norris kick here. What can I say?Kathleen Norris grew up in Hawaii, but went to South Dakota every summer to spend time with her grandparents. She went to college on the east coast, worked for awhile after graduation in New York City, but eventually moved with her husband (also a poet) to her maternal grandparents home in South Dakota to live. A parallel story is Kathleen Norris growing up not really understanding or liking the God she was taught about in the Presbyteria [...]

    9. This is a book of essays about the genius loci of Dakota, where the vast geography and midwestern sensibility give it a distinct identity. Norris tells it like it is when it comes to Dakota:"By the time a town is seventy-five or one hundred years old, it may be filled with those who have come to idealize their isolation. Often these are people who never left at all, or fled back to the safety of the town after a try at college a few hundred miles from home, or returned after college regarding th [...]

    10. This is a wonderful book. Norris is a poet as well as a writer, and this shows in the prose, and the precision of the language she uses. As an adult, she returned to her family home in a small town in South Dakota and, through a series of essays and snapshots, she reveals the dynamics of life in an environment that is extreme in many ways: climate, isolation, history. She interweaves this with the related but dissimilar insights gained from the time she has spent at Benedictine monasteries in th [...]

    11. This book had some really cool bits and pieces about the spirituality and desolation found in the geography of South Dakota. However, i found those bits were wrapped in a thick layer of condescension and prejudicial judgement. I did not enjoy reading this book because I bristled at her tone so many times. She seemed to generalize about the people who made that space their home.

    12. Poignant moments of reading throughout this memoir for me -- most often through Norris' descriptions of the landscape, movingly familiar and beautifully rendered for this girl who was raised on a North Dakota farm. I even recognized the people she depicts and often, to my hyper-sensitive reader's ears, seems to criticize. To be fair, her awarenesses of 'Dakota' (the western-most portions of South AND North Dakota) are much fresher than mine, given my departure from ND over 30 years ago. In all, [...]

    13. In "Dakota," author Kathleen Norris captures accurately, affectionately and yet also brutally honestly, what it is like to live in the American plains/Canadian prairie region of North America. On the positive side, she addresses the stark beauty, vast unpopulated territory, recent frontier history, and interesting ethnic mix. On the negative side, she confronts the isolation (both geographic and psychological) and potential loneliness which follows from it, often prevalent provincial attitude, u [...]

    14. Poetry and Essay that recognizes the link of spiritual to geography. Our place affects our interaction with God. Norris in this book explores how the extremes of living in very rural South Dakota influenced her spirituality. I appreciated her lyricism. As a North Dakotan by birth and choice but now living elsewhere, I miss the stark reminders of the true human position in the universe that the Dakotas provide their residents. When life and death and the cycles of seasons are harshly evident, it [...]

    15. I liked her Weather Reports, I liked the short poetic bursts about life on the high plains, I liked her parallels between Dakota and a monastic life. What I'm not sure I liked yet was her tone. At times I felt it was condescending as in "Well, I moved to Dakota from NYC, now let me tell you about these simple folk." I understand that some of this might be because she is writing as an outsider- this is one of the places on Earth where anyone who isn't born there will always be an outsider. I unde [...]

    16. Unlike the NY Times Book Review, I did not find this book "deeply moving". There were moments of clarity in her descriptions of extremes in weather and Hope church. But reading it was not enjoyable which is surprising since the author is (as she regularly points out) a poet. For instance, she uses monastic ("It's hard to say what monastic people mean to us"), monasticism ("My monasticism is an odd one"), and liturgy so often it was making me crazy. These clunky words conjure up little meaning fo [...]

    17. Place is the centerpiece of Kathleen Norris’ memoir, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. This textual map is an eloquent gathering of herself as she explores her inheritance and her faith in a small town in western South Dakota. The land she captures on the pages of this aptly named ‘geography’ lives, breathes, transforms. But Dakota is not for the romantic seeking a nostalgic reconnection with the earth. It is a land of fierce winds and oppressive skies, drought and dust, killing rains. It is [...]

    18. My favorite lines: “Everything that seems empty is full of the angels of God.” (St Hilary). Angels (do) seem possible in the wind-filled expanse. I began to see those forlorn motel rooms as monk’s cells, full of gifts of silence and solitude. Asceticism is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner than enhances the whole person. Walking in a hard Dakota windI have a sense of my blood so like the sea in chemical composition, my every cell partaking of air. I walk in a turbu [...]

    19. I discovered this book in a used bookstore in Charlottesville, and felt drawn to it immediately. My mom is from South Dakota and so I feel a connection to that part of the world, and I was also hoping to find a book celebrating solitude in a forgotten place. I was not disappointed. This quote sums up the book nicely-"I had stumbled onto a basic truth of asceticism it is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing exact [...]

    20. I've always loved the Dakota prairie so when I stumbled upon this book at a flea market I grabbed it. As it happens, upon her grandmother's death, writer and poet Kathleen Norris and her husband left their high life in NYC and moved to the old family homestead on the western edge of South Dakota. She tells her story via essays written across 20 years of her life on the prairie. Curiously enough, interspersed in her essays are her musings about monks and the life they lead inside the walls of a m [...]

    21. The note inside the cover shows I bought this in January 1995 and I discovered it on a hidden shelf here in Norfolk and was prompted to read it because Kate had told me good things about her visit to her relative's farm in South Dakota last year. And I am so glad she did as this book moved me substantially and made me decide: Dakotas I must visit. It weaves some of the history of this rapidly depopulating western edge of South and North Dakota, with her spiritual development in the wilderness, a [...]

    22. I read this years ago, and it was the first time I learned (by reading Norris's experience) to understand my sense of life through a sense of place. Geography is often ignored in this age when so few of us make our livings from the land, but the landscapes around us, what we see each day, the weather that blows around us, does impact us.Having grown up in Kansas, I appreciated Norris's admiration for the plains -- a landscape many people write off as boring. There is nothing boring about a wide- [...]

    23. I found this collection of personal essays to be quite timely in my own life's journey as I retreated from having over committed myself to multiple, responsible volunteer projects. Norris describes in beautiful, sensitive, and intelligent prose, her move from bustling NYC to a small town in western South Dakota. Having grown up in a small town myself, I could readily relate to her observations -- the many little gifts such a town has to offer -- but also the feeling of isolation and pettiness th [...]

    24. I have spent most of my life living on the Canadian Prairies. Most of my time in Alberta but some in Manitoba. I know the wind, the rain, the blizzards, the sun dogs, the seemingly endless landscape. I lived on a farm in a rural community and know about time moving fast and standing still. This is a beautiful collection of poems and essays that depict life on the Prairies and its flaws and beauty.

    25. One of the best books I have ever read. I risked ruining a friendship when a friend of mine lagged in returning the copy I'd lent her - the one that had all my precious highlights and margin notes. My roots on my mother's side are in North Dakota, so this "spiritual geography" resonated even more than the deeply moving introspection on life, humans, small towns, artistry, marriage, and above all, spirituality. Thank you, Kathleen.

    26. I am pretty sure this was the most boring book I have ever read in my entire life. I had the hardest time just forcing myself to turn the page. I wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't for bookclub. Really uninteresting. I found the writer very annoying with her "an author from North Dakota" comments. Seriously, why couldn't she just say the persons name. I don't recommend this book.

    27. Drop Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, onto the western Dakota plains instead of a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains and make her more open to orthodox Christianity. Have her write with a little less insight but a little more grit about prairies like an ocean, and small town relationships, and silence, and living with monks. It's not for everybody but I really liked it.

    28. I think this is the first Kathleen Norris I read -- aside from her poetry. I also think it is her best. At least it is my favorite. She writes with such a sense of place -- both geographical and spiritual. The prose is stunning.

    29. An honest, though subjective, exploration of the interaction of monastic and rural life in western Dakota. Norris offers some contemplative food for thought but often slips into derogatory stereotypes of the people that reside in the northern prairies.

    30. Really interesting look at life in western South Dakota written by a woman who moved from NY City into her grandmother's farmhouse. She had a really unique perspective on religion and spirituality.

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