TNS/UNO Master of Fine Arts Workshops


2019 Poetics of Place with UNO MFA students on the Solstice for Lichens. Photo by Michelle Quick

Every winter or summer or whenever it happens the UNO MFA students meeting at Nebraska City take a morning to cross the river to join us in the deep and silent woods of the Loess Hills and sometimes a meadow. Together we read the earth with our feet and offer in gratitude our wildest attention. And then together we write a poem.


Leafy lichen with a side of witch’s butter on December 31st, the day Henry David Thoreau proclaimed “The Solstice for Lichens.” Photo by Troy Soderberg.

At our most recent gathering on December 31st, 2019 our prompt was drawn from the ancient Karelian poem-cycle the Kalevala. We used the octosyllabic-couplet form to write our own collaborative lai of the land as we sauntered through Wolf’s Milk Hollow on that day so named. We were mentored in the cryptogamic mysteries by mycologist Katie Thompson.



Last Walk of a Decade

Secret muscle of this moment     worlds emerge if softly parted.

To decay to eat the cosmos a wonder      I want to become you I come to you closer.

Snow, leaves, earth, chewed underfoot trails      remind us we are not just eyes.

Cryptic sex amongst cryptic war      symbiotic interminglings.

We walk a line in the ravine      flowing creek droplets of water.

The sun arrives.      All of the alive opens in its warmth.

Life is all around us      big and small, tiny and huge,

green and scarlet yellow jelly      warring living green.

The woods whisper sweetly      tickling through the air.

Butter melts in my hands.      The ice gradually disappears.

Winter’s whispers raise green sprites.     Their dreamscapes unfurling in the sun.

Ears and ears lean down,      listen at tamped earth, its scanner cupping.

Their flattery pretty traps      or bejeweled nets of welcome.




*Additional photos by Corson Androski.