North Star Country,” by Meridel Le Sueur, written 1945, 1998 Edition
Sometime C.P. author Meridel Le Sueur, our female Whitman, our prose Carl Sandberg. Historical pastiche, cutout, mosaic, montage, a writer’s canvas of collages. The down-home history of the ‘upper’ Midwest, of the central west, of the cold place of lakes, of the 5 Lakotas/ Minnesotas/ Iowas/ Wisconsins, from first white step to last big war. History of cruelty to the native tribes; rebellion in a near place. History of the strengths of the first whites. Plows and eats and plants and trees. Steam engines and pie tins. Hollers and reels. Wagons and timber. Corn and winter. 38 Santee hung. Acres plowed, bottom lands that never bottom out. Democracy rooted in a new country. Freedom’s people.
Minnesota. The North Star State. South Canada. The capstone of a continent. Where the waters divide.
But it doesn‘t stop there in a rosy, earthy, Minnesota memory. Its not all jack-a-wallop poetry. There is a human snake in paradise. It would be an insult to the snake to blame him. Railroad barons, timber kings, ore thieves, big mansions, small money-mad minds. Poverty-stricken timber-jacks. Bunions. Exhausted field hands. Foreclosures. Farmers buying farms for a $1, guns up. Roads of hoes. The unemployed. Strike killers, machine-gun cops, 2 dead, 65 wounded. And sent to war, all together, in the end.
Our own prose poetess, Le Sueur.
And I bought it at Mayday Books,
Red Frog, 6/10/2011