Nebraska State Poet Twyla Hansen visited York College on Sunday, March 23 to present a reading of her work and conduct a writer’s workshop.
Approximately 40 people attended Hansen’s reading, entitled All Across the Plains. Hansen read and discussed a number of her own poems, as well as that of poets with whom she has collaborated. Her earthy free-verse poetry touched on everyday topics, from bees to fathers to Sandhill Cranes.
During a question and answer session after her reading, Hansen discussed her craft, her writing habits, and her approach to poetry. “You have to make time [to write],” she says. “Talent is dependent on regular work.”
After the reading in the Prayer Chapel, there was a reception and book signing in the Cornerstone Room, followed by a writer’s workshop. Hansen led the 20 writers present at the workshop through two exercises from a Nebraska writers resource WriteInCommunity.com. The first prompt was about spring rituals and the second involved an item from a childhood bedroom. There was time for sharing, comment, and revision after each writing exercise.
"We are glad to have had the pleasurable opportunity to host Twyla Hansen's program through the Nebraska Humanities Speaker's Bureau for both our campus community but also for the larger communities surrounding York," said Beverly McNeese, associate professor of English. "It is always a special occasion to hear an acclaimed poet's work being read by the poet in their own voice. Another bonus was her easy manner as she conducted our writing workshop. It was an enjoyable experience and time well spent."
Humanities Nebraska (HN) provided major funding for this program. HN receives support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Nebraska State Legislature, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and private donations.
About Twyla Hansen
Twyla Hansen has an extensive publishing history, both in books and periodicals. Her newest book, Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (Backwaters Press 2011) with rancher-writer Linda Hasselstrom, won the 2012 Nebraska Book Award in poetry, and was a finalist for the Willa Literary Award and High Plains Book Award. She has five previous books, including Potato Soup, which won a 2004 Nebraska Book Award. Her poems were nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.Hansen's writing has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Prairie Fire newspaper, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review,Ascent, Natural Bridge, Organization & Environment, Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry (Backwaters Press 2007), Encyclopedia of the Great Plains (University of Nebraska Press, 2004), Crazy Woman Creek: Women Rewrite the American West (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), Poets Against the War (Nation Books, 2003), and A Contemporary Reader for Creative Writing (Harcourt Brace, 1994).
Hansen was raised on a farm in northeast Nebraska on land her grandparents farmed in the late 1800s. She earned an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a master’s degree in agroecology, both from University of Nebraska Lincoln. Since 1982, she has worked as a horticulturist and arboretum curator at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Twyla and her husband Tom live in Lincoln where their yard is maintained as an urban wildlife habitat. In 1989, the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum awarded her the Johnny Appleseed Award for "sustained personal involvement in tree planting."
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