Bloodroot: Indiana Poems




Comments on Bloodroot


"The test of 'poetry of place' is whether it feels perfectly familiar to a reader who lives there. I'm a southern Indiana native who feels right at home in Norbert Krapf's poems." —James Alexander Thom

"Norbert Krapf is one of our distinguished and moving American poets. The new poems seem among his best." —Robert Phillips






Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins (1993)

Norbert Krapf is blessed with the haunting beauty of his childhood and youth in rural Indiana.  Family and friends crowd upon him, gentle men and women, hard working farmers straight out of gracious but impoverished Germany of the nineteenth century.  They are his roots in being, and he pays them deep, discerning love and gratitude for who they were and are to him still, strengthened in himself as man and poet because of them. Somewhere in Southern Indiana should be read of a quiet evening, joining Norbert Krapf in his memories of the once living, who handed on to him their spirit and sustaining love with which he was raised to carry on unto the generations yet to come.  It is a book of rural psalms.

David Ignatow, winner, Bollingen Prize in Poetry


Those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the small-town Midwest will perhaps respond most immediately to Krapf’s sensuous evocation of the Hoosier Schwarzwald, the giant tulip poplars, shagbarks, oak, and beech, woods still sufficient to get lost in, where Krapf feels the call of the wild, from which “No one has ever been able to / track me down.” And nobody who hailed from those parts will fail to recognize that Midwestern passion, the beloved hardwood thud of basketballs, and the long set shot…

Philip Appleman, author of Darwin’s Ark (IUP)


Norbert Krapf has been writing strong poems about the things that most matter for some years, and it is fine to see them together in collections.  He is one of the best of the poets who have emerged in recent years, and the publication of his work is cause for celebration.

Lucien Stryk, Editor of Heartland:

Poets of the Midwest and Heartland II


With poet David Ignatow you may call Krapf’s work “a book of rural psalms” that celebrates the chains of generations past and still unborn.

Eberhard Reichmann, German Life


With its emphasis on the specificities of a place and its people, Krapf’s poetry has deep affinities with the local color tradition of American literature.  But like Kentucky poet Wendell Berry, Krapf’s forte is in recognizing the spiritual interaction between a people and their place…. For Krapf, the relationship is that of a son who has been much blessed through the sacredness of place and familial love.

 The Sycamore Review


One place comprehended can make us understand other places better,” Eudora Welty writes in one of her essays.  Welty’s statement finds ample support in Norbert Krapf’s Somewhere in Southern Indiana.  Although these poems are deeply rooted in the landscape of southern Indiana and the lives of Krapf’s German-Catholic ancestors, their ultimate concerns are what Faulkner called the “old universal truths” of “love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice.”

Arts Indiana


The mix of sunny and dark images places the poet in a Frostian tradition as well as a Whitmananian one; Krapf’s poems reverberate with the mystery of human character at the core of his family roots.



These are strong poems about things that matter….they are specific to a region, yet they reveal in their fine language and vision what universal may be found in the specifics of the world.  And that is what makes for good poetry in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Academic Library Book Review


Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany (1997)

In half a lifetime of writing history and poetry about the Catholic communities of the Jasper [Indiana] area and their German antecedents, Krapf has shown a sense of place and ethnic identity that radiates out to universal brotherhood. In Blue-Eyed Grass, his most personal and yet his most magnanimous work, he reminds us of the all-American Walt Whitman, who remained "a part of all that I have met," and of Wendell Berry, who sings of his beloved Kentucky that he has seen the worst and best of humankind there.

Dan Carpenter, Indianapolis Star


Norbert Krapf is a poet-historian. In this volume, Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany, he has undertaken a journey to the land of his Indiana immigrant ancestors. Finding his roots, Krapf enriches his own and his children's lives, and ours, too.

Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.,

President Emeritus,

University of Notre Dame


The Country I Come From (2002), nominated for the Pulitzer Prize

Not since Theodore Roethke has any poet handled so successfully the subject of youth and adolescence.

William Jay Smith, former U.S. Poet Laureate


This book is about the cocoons he has never shed, and it is a natural history in verse, a collage of smells and sensations and scenes from an elemental life seething with biological and cultural mystery. // The author’s mission: to draw, from the welter of English and German and Miami and birdsong, a language of his own to do justice to his country—“a voice which could reach back to include those who came before.” // He succeeds admirably in this moving and evocative collection, which is graced with a stunning cover landscape portrait from the lens of noted Bloomington photographer Darryl Jones.

Indianapolis Star


This sense of unsought belonging is symptomatic in the poems of Norbert Krapf’s collection The Country I Come From. The images seem rooted in autobiography—as Krapf is a native of the Indiana territory he re-explores here.  Throughout the book, the poet looks back on the places he grew up, and moves beyond his personal memory to touch on the history of the land and its earliest people… // All of this beauty and memory does not come without a price.  There are painful observations here as well as renewing ones.  In poems like “What We Lost in Southern Indiana” and “Mississinewa River Lament” the speaker considers the cultural and natural heritage we have lost through poorly considered planning, misunderstanding and greed… . [The] poems…are loyal in their presentation of natural beauty and the potential and despair of people who live close to the earth.  The poet is aware that this way of life is fading and changing, but that he owes his life to it and must seek to preserve this simplicity in his own way.

Southern Indiana Review


After Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany (1997) and Bittersweet Along the Expressway, Norbert Krapf has with this latest collection returned to the place which provided the theme for his first major volume, Somewhere in Southern Indiana: Poems of Midwestern Origins (1993). His writings of this decade have secured him a distinctive place in contemporary American poetry.”

Gert Niers, World Literature Today


Looking for God’s Country (2005)
Norbert Krapf has always spoken eloquently, but without pretension, of spirit and home in his poems. LFGC, which blends German memories with the American heartland, may be his best collection.

Joseph Bruchac, Native American author


Never easy or facile, his poems embrace not only this world, but the world beyond this world; not only the New World, but the Old World.  He deserves high praise.

Robert Phillips, poet and critic


Norbert Krapf’s poems speak from the heart of the heartland, a vision of community, family, and kinship across time.  These are poems about memory, legacy, and lives.  Krapf has the gift to find the delight, and the sacred, in the ordinary, which is also the extraordinary.

Robert Morgan, poet and novelist


Krapf’s poems work with familiar subjects and situations, and often assume a plainness as profound as the great Hoosier game, as in “Barnyard Hoops.” Universalizing the Hoosier commonplace may be one of Krapf’s most worthy missions. // A kind of longing for a grounded self centers the poet’s deeper concerns, and the poet remains strongly connected to his German-American roots.

Jim Powell, Nuvo


Invisible Presence: A Walk through Indiana in Photographs and Poems (2006), with Darryl Jones

Ranging from haiku-like maxims to brawny catalogues reminiscent of Whitman, by turns wry and soulful, these poems link the exterior landscape of pumpkins and pumps with the interior landscape of memory and emotion. Like "Corn Syllables," which ends as "a hymn / of praise," all of these poems may be read as psalms, hymns of wonder and delight. Those with an ear for American poetry will hear echoes not only of Whitman but also of Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Sandburg, and Roethke, and those with an ear for poetry from across the sea will hear echoes of Blake, Lawrence, and Rilke...We should be grateful to Darryl Jones and Norbert Krapf for helping us to see spiritual presence not merely in all things Hoosier but in all things.

Scott Russell Sanders, Foreword


It’s rare and good to read such intense thought and feeling compressed into tight, neat packages of one-syllable words. Both the poet and photographer have advanced into a new, free level of image-making.

James Alexander Thom, novelist


Two artists have combined to create Invisible Presence, a book lovely enough to grace coffee tables worldwide, with images and words that will make Hoosiers see their home in a new light.  Renowned Indiana photographer Darryl D. Jones manipulates Polaroid film to capture lush, impressionistic scenes—primarily rural—from around the state, which are accompanied by the spare but thoughtful verse of Norbert Krapf, a Jasper native currently residing in Indy. 

Indianapolis Monthly


In the beautiful and elegant book, "Invisible Presence: A Walk through Indiana in Photographs and Poems" (Quarry Books, 2006), Norbert Krapf has written wistful homages about Indiana scenes taken by photographer Darryl D. Jones.

Northwest Indiana Times


Norbert Krapf is an extraordinary poet of “place,” as well as a master of the short meditation. His roots lie in Indiana, and he has returned to it brilliantly throughout his career. It’s no wonder that his collaboration with artistic photographer Darryl a match made in heaven. This is a gorgeously rich book, a seamless collaboration capturing the spiritual undercurrent that flows through the fields, woods, and towns of Indiana, and in a greater sense, around us all.



Invisible Presence is the kind of book that satisfies on two levels: it is an aesthetically pleasing collection of artfully manipulated photographs that grace the pages like impressionist works; and it is a gathering of eloquent, sometimes spare poetic meditations which enhance these visions. Focusing on the pastoral and the spiritual, in both image and language, Darryl D. Jones and Norbert Krapf have created a literary and artistic homage to Indiana.