“He alternates poems and essays,” he says. “This is meant to bring out the conflicting experiences of living in Nebraska – and managing Nebraska. There are trials between sections and sections trying to build through the conflict towards a tentative feeling for Nebraska. “
Peek agrees with Schifferns on the origins of poetry.
“Obviously, the origins of poetry were in oral performance; it was not in writing, ”he said. “It was an oral performance around a tribal event or a community where the singer would sing the songs of the tribe. It was obviously a way of creating the tribe and a way of showing this tribe what makes it a tribe. Even in introspective poems there is a common touch.
Coming together to experience poetry adds to the effect.
“When Terry goes into one of her poems like ‘Chama River Chant’, I think she brings a whole bunch of people with her to that bank,” said Peek.
Schifferns, 64, started writing more than three decades ago. She chose 14 poems to present while reading – a number she promised to cut even more. She likes to have additional poems to share and then revise her list based on the mood of the audience.
“I’m going to read poems about aging,” she says. “Poetry is a great place to talk about anything that fascinates you – or that bothers you. I started writing about getting older as I got older – because I stopped falling in love so much. But I also have lots of love poems.