Vielen Dank! Webmaster Robert Shea and I thank you for visiting this site and would welcome your response and suggestions. Please take a moment to enter your comments and/or view the comments from previous guests. If you would like an acknowledgement of your response, please include your email address, which will not become part of your entry.

If you prefer that your comments not become a part of this Guestbook, please state this clearly. All comments may be sent by clicking on and typing as much as you wish.


Norbert, every night I open Bloodroot to any page and am surprised. One evening I read Fire and Ice. You captured prejudice so simply and yet the pain was palpable. Tears were inevitable. Another evening you brought my beloved grandfather back to me in The Mandolin and the Tenor. When I read “Du, du liegst mir im Herzen,” I could hear the melody in his voice. I had not thought of that in years. What a loving memory that was. Thank you from my heart.

We lost Bill’s mother in January, one day after her 90th birthday. The last year had been very difficult. Her world had shrunk to a small bedroom where she sat day after day in her blue and pink chair. Her memories, her life, slipped away before her body realized it. So, when I read Let Morning Light, Farewell Lullaby, and At Least Now, I found comfort in sharing the same experience with an unknown son and his love for his mother. I read them over and over now just because they are so eerily written about Bill and Adriana.

Words crafted by a stranger that express the reader’s emotions and rekindle their memories while plucking on their heart strings are true poetry. We are no longer strangers.

Kim Stagg
, IN  

18  February 2009

Scott Russell Sanders

I have enjoyed reading a few poems [in Bloodroot] each night, since it arrived in December. There is an admirable feeling for the Indiana landscape, both human and natural; for your German heritage; and for the ancestors, family members, and friends who have shaped your consciousness.  I can see why your years in Long Island felt like a kind of exile. A part of you, and the deepest roots, never left Indiana. Many of your totems are dear to me, from sycamores and dogwoods to exemplary carpentry (those music stands) and alluring rivers. I congratulate you on this body of work, and on the gathering of so many heartfelt poems in this handsome volume. 

Bloomington, IN

4 February 2009


Hi, this is Mark Horney Jasper High School Class of '72. 

I was in town a few days after Christmas visiting my dad and brothers and sisters.  I received a great gift from my sister, Donna.   You all may know of this book she gave which was published in 2008.  The book is "The Ripest Moments - A Southern Indiana Childood" by Norbert Krapf, a JHS '61 grad I think.   Midway through the book I realized that his sister Mary Krapf was a '72 classmate of ours. 

The book is a sentimental [moving?] look at growing up Jasper-Catholic-German.  While Norb's experiences are different than mine or yours, they are still very similar.  Norb's baseball coach was the same man that hired me at the Jasper Desk Company for my summer jobs while I was attending ISU.  My favorite story was when Norb rolled down a hill and a stick went almost all the way through his hand. Of course, as all of our mothers did, she cleaned it with peroxide. His mother then wrote a note to the nun at Holy Family [St. Joseph’s] School about his injury, and the nun told him, "Now you know how Jesus felt.”  What a hoot!

Anyway I highly recommend this book, a quick and easy read.

Mark Horney
Baltimore County, Maryland

21 January 2009


Mom and Dad gave each of my [6)] siblings and me a copy of The Ripest Moments for Christmas.  I took mine with me last week on a business trip - leaving from the Indy airport.  That's my second time at the airport since the relocation.  I've looked for your window but haven't been able to locate it.  Where might I find it? [Gate A22, see photos on IPL Gallery page of this site.]  As for the book, I loved it.  I was laughing so heartily on the plane that the passenger next to me finally asked what I was reading. After I told him and read a few lines from the book, he laughed in remembrance of his own upbringing on a farm in Southeastern Indiana. You have a flair for vivid/descriptive text - the kind that makes one feel like they're sitting in the middle of the woods hunting with you or sitting across from a family member at one of the picnics.  It was a true joy to read and I offer you my congratulations on another superb publication.

Maureen V. Egan
Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Marketing
Saint Joseph's College 

Jan. 20, 2009


I thoroughly enjoyed your new book ! It brought back many of my own childhood memories. For one year my family lived next to my grandfather, August Wehr, in a big white house near Sternberg's. (I believe the Jasper Lumber Co. is located in this building now.) The house still stands today and is just down the road from Holy Family School. I attended third grade and made my first Holy Communion in the Spring of 1952. My sister and I used to walk to Knust's Grocery Store to buy candy and gum. I recognized most of the people named in the book. My brother, Jerome "Jerry" Bockelman, who is four years older, was friends with the Blessinger, Kreilein and Knust boys. 

Your 1961 Classmate,
Joyce Bockelman Nonte
Patoka, Indiana 

17 August 2008


Hi Cousin Norb,

I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your latest book The Ripest Moments.  As you stated in the Preface of the book,  those of us who live here in Jasper can identify with a lot of the memories: the Labor Day boxes, the Holy Family Picnic, the ballgames, just to name a few. As I started your last chapter where everyone was coming to the picnic, my eyes welled up with tears.  I could just visualize this setting, and then wondered about all the people who would come to my picnic.  

As I told my sister Marlene, I have started to make a list of my childhood memories (once you start thinking about them, more seem to show up). If for no other reason than my own satisfaction, I hope to sit down with pen in hand and write about my childhood days. I enjoy writing poetry and parodies of songs, so this will be a new adventure. Thanks for the inspiration.

Looking forward to your next book.

Barb Kunkel Keusch
Jasper, In. 

8 August 2008


I will be there tomorrow evening at the Dubois County Museum to listen to you read.   I also want to accept your kind invitation to come to your 'picnic'. What a lovely day that would be.   We all need to have picnics in our lives.  
It is so easy for me to think that The Ripest Moments are my memoirs too.    What power your words have! I loved the book although some of it was very sad. Are you the Norb I knew in school? Gosh, if we could only go back and look at people through our 'grown up' eyes.What have we missed in all our friends?  I know it will be crowded tomorrow, and we may not get to talk, but I want to thank you for finding a place for me in the book, in that last chapter. I had to laugh at that memory.  I can still feel the night air and smell the inside of that haunted house. What were we thinking? 
Congratulations on all your recent accomplishments.    We'll have to talk soon.

Love from a cousin,
Marlene Kunkel Bingham  

31 July 2008

I am glad you are reading at St. Charles Health Campus. Mom lived there for 3 years before her death last September. I haven't been back since, and I am ashamed of myself.   So many nice people living there just waiting for someone to come talk with them or say 'hi' or smile at them or entertain them. I often think of those places as holding bins for Heaven. But, that's not true. Mostly they are happy and cared for. We got to know so many of them those three years. especially well for them and listen to their stories. They have so much to say, and they are very special people. They will love listening to you. 

Marlene Kunkel Bingham 

31 July 2008

It was nice chatting with both of you this evening. It was a very enjoyable, relaxing time to me. You, Norb, had to work a little harder. How nice to see the people's reactions to your stories. And, seeing the 'characters' in your book actually sitting there listening to you was a neat thing too. Your brother [and cousins Tony Krapf, Mike Schmitt, Esther Rumbach, and Elfrieda Fleck], Brute's daughter, your uncles. Brute's baseball story is so funny. I always liked him and his 'boldness'. What a character! Having his daughter sitting there made it special. Linked him right to the present. You read all the selections I would have requested if I wasn't so shy so thank you for that. 

Marlene Kunkel Bingham
Patoka, Indiana

1 Aug. 2008


The Ripest Moments is such a pleasing book to read. The memories are so vivid, so warm and affectionate, so detailed. You bring a place and a community, as well as an era, alive. The counterpoint between the pictures and text is part of the effect, summoning up these folks and those hard times and good times from long ago. You have such a strong sense of connection and continuity, it comes through in every page. There is a feeling of discovery, in the unfolding of the past all the way back to the old country and the lives of those newly arrived in a strange world which they made their own. And through your writing you have not only made it your own but something of our own too. Thank you for this delightful journey into the heartland.

And congratulations on becoming the poet laureate. That is a special honor. You are going to be a busy man.

Robert Morgan, novelist, poet
Ithaca, NY
5 July 2008


Congratulations, man! This is wonderful news, that you’re Indiana Poet Laureate. This makes your return home perfect, I think. What a story of homecoming!

I finished your memoir the other day and enjoyed this book very much. It's a fine read indeed. Enjoyable in every respect. It will reach a wide audience, no doubt about it. As you can imagine, reading it makes me recall all sorts of memories of my own. In particular, the chapters about hunting, hay and farm life are most endearing to me, e.g. "Lampert Farm", "Aunt Tillie's Farm", "Shape of Trees", but also the moving passages about your father (workbench, bird boxes, his depression and shock treatment). The whole book has a very warm tone and colour, yet it refrains from being nostalgic or euphemistic. This is wholesomely sincere, I think. A strong but genuine sense of rootedness and belonging permeates your words without sounding parochial. Rather, I am reminded of Eliot's famous line "in my beginning is my end". I savoured the many words for trees, flowers or crops etc. that I haven't come across really, only the passages about baseball are rather mysterious to me as an outsider. But it's a lovable book that will remain absolutely popular with Hoosier readers, I think. A great memory that will help people understand how the present came about and what it is made of.

All in all, congratulations once again! I enjoyed every page of it. By the way, Rosa Kokocinski, your old friend's daughter in my 11th grade class, asked me to loan the book for her mother to read. So she will get my copy tomorrow. Your German audience is gradually growing, you see.

Helmut Haberkamm, poet, playwright,
Erlangen/Spardorf, Germany 

1 July 2008



Hearty welcome from the arts council in Bluffton, Indiana, where our summer intern is a sophomore art major at St. Joseph College. It is gratifying to see that Indiana is home to a poet whose words recall to mind the style of William Stafford and Wendell Berry. Congratulations on this appropriate Poet Laureate designation.  

Maureen Butler, Director, The Creative Arts Council of Wells County, Inc.
Bluffton, IN

1 July 2008


Congratulations are indeed in order for you on your auspicious appointment of Poet Laureate. I saw it in the Star late last week and rejoice for you, your family and your talented friend Monika and all your devoted followers. You are bringing poetry back to our citizenry unlike anyone since Etheridge Knight, a late acquaintance of mine. You have the magic spark to attract new listeners and the charm to keep them coming back for more.

Margo Scheuring

24 June 2008



Congratulations, Norbert! My great-grandfather John Wesley Shockley aka John Wickliff Shawnessy aka Monty Clift would have aspired to this position, Indiana Poet Laureate.  He lived in Straughn (Waycross) on the National Road, was a Hoosier schoolmaster, and wrote poetry--I just got interviewed by PBS for a program they're doing on the National Road and had to bone up.  Continued good fortune with your career out there.

Larry Lockridge, author of In the Shade of the Raintree*
New York City 

24 June 2008


Several weeks ago when I was at SJC, John Groppe told me you had been nominated.  Then about a week ago Phil Deaver e-mailed me that you had been named Indiana Poet Laureate.  Then, I read it in the newspaper!  And all this time, I was not in my office where I have your e-mail address. So, a belated congratulations to you.  You make us all—Southern Indiana natives and SJC alumni—proud. And over the weekend I reread some of your poems, including the one about Don Mattingly.

Timothy Seiler

24 June 2008



What great news, your being named Indiana Poet Laureate. It was just what I was hoping for you and Katherine and your family--the recognition of a lifetime of dedication to poetry and to your family going way back to your Franconian roots. I am sure your mother is pleased and no doubt your father, but also Klara Krapf and your uncle who was killed near Strödt and your brother who threw that grenade into that cave in Viet Nam.

My faith in bureaucracies had been restored.

John Groppe
Rensselaer, In.

17 June 2008

Gert Niers

Associate Editor, German Life 

I can understand why The Ripest Moments is in such demand: It is a wonderful memoir that reflects personal and community life woven into one experience and presented as one narrative. I think that also the break-up into chapters (of which I had already reviewed one) makes it attractive for public readings and similar offerings. The chapters are like the rooms of a house – when you invite a visitor to step in, you don’t have to show the whole house for the guest to enjoy the atmosphere: a room or two at a time is enough to arouse the interest.  Apart from this, the solid binding and the purple cover make the book a bibliophile item that one would like to keep (purple – the color of nostalgia and melancholy: what would be more suitable for a childhood memoir?). And the photo documents assure the reader that it all really happened. Great job!

Point Pleasant, New Jersey
See reviews of Norbert Krapf books:  

June 6, 2008


I read your The Ripest Moments and liked it very much. In fact, I was reduced to weeping and gnashing of teeth because I had not written it myself. Of course, I couldn’t possibly have written this book because it is a memoir.  If there is one hard and fast rule of writing it is this: when you write a memoir, remember your own life and not someone else’s. After reading your book I began remembering my own life – especially my childhood – and I came to the conclusion that I have a terrible memory.  My only consolation is that someone once said that the secret of happiness is a terrible memory and perhaps he is right.

I like the fact that you do not purport to have a pattern or a plan, but only as the title suggests a collection of ripe moments. I find that this non-plan is closest in design to the way we actually remember things. I like your lists. I like your sense of place, time, and family. I am sure someone else has already told you this, but it is certainly true and worth repeating. As a poet your approach to prose is marked by not only brevity but density and eloquence. Each chapter reads as if it began as a poem or is destined to become one later.

Larry Gray, playwright
Hammond, Louisiana

27 May 2008


Arranged in vignettes and by motifs, the brief chapters in The Ripest Moments evoke Wordsworthian “spots of time.” That is, a single place like the swaying rye fields, which belonged to the Holy Family Parish near the Krapf home, becomes richly layered with memories from different moments throughout Norbert’s life. Similarly, motifs that are seasonal—the hunting of squirrels, the gathering of black walnuts, or the singing of Stille Nacht—accrue additional meaning with each repetition. More than once, reading this memoir, I was reminded how the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar and the seasons of the year mirror each other, and, also, how integral religious practice was to the life of the community. While Jasper’s citizens were not Transcendentalists in the Emersonian sense, it is clear from this memoir how natural signs took on transcendent meaning, as when young Norbert looked up through the trellis of his mother’s morning glories and glimpsed “open blue passageways into eternity.”… Like Wendell Berry or Scott Russell Sanders, Norbert’s aim is to reveal the life of the individual in the community. 

Karen Kovacik
Indianapolis, Ind. 

28 April 2008

Rev. Peyton

It was awesome meeting you - I have been reading some of your poetry, and I have found some real gems! I am very glad we ran into each other. Please keep in touch, and let me know when your new book Invisible Presence is released! Thank you very much for the kind words about the Broad Ripple Blues Festival and the CD Pork & Beans by Rev. Peyton's Big Damned Band... Thanks so much for all you did to make last night's house concert so special, and special it certainly was. I can't believe how great it went. Everyone was so kind to me. I am lucky to have met you. Hearing you read was very special - a few of those I had read on your site, but it was more powerful in person for sure - as it often is.

Rev. Peyton

Aug./Oct. 2005


I started reading a few selections from The Country I Come From last night and of course, several things delighted immediately: "like a forgotten language / a part of you spoke / thousands of years ago" and "that part of the ear / that never unlearned / how to listen." I especially like that term "unlearned" - it suggests to me an unfortunate devolution that's contrary to what is by nature good, youthful, innocent, and true in our being. Many of your poems call to mind Blake's line about "seeing through the eye, not with it". I guess a good poet has to do both. Sometimes a beautiful tree is just a beautiful tree; sometimes there's more to dis-cover about it.

Another passage, "Now say what you see. / Say shagbark hickory. / Say beech or black gum," reminds me of  your poem "Arriving on Paumanok." The words themselves are so rich that they seem to complement the visual wonder of it all. "What we lost in Southern Indiana" seems to me to be a powerful indictment, even though it mostly just describes things as they once were; no preachiness.... The extremely evocative, bitterly sad loss of the mother wolf at the end is our loss as well.... I'm obviously enjoying the work quite a lot after only a few pages. It made me think about all the small details of the neighborhood I grew up in and inspired me to think about and even list them all. I'm immensely grateful for having come in touch with your work.

Robert Shea
St. Louis

December 30, 2005


I really enjoyed hearing your poetry at Vic's Espresso Bar. Your readings suited the prose [comments] beautifully. I too grew up in small town Indiana, and related well to your subject matter. I look forward to hearing and reading more from you in the future. Compliments on the website, too, by the way - very nicely done!

16 June 2005

Just so you know, your poem about my song "Sweet Sister Moon" ["Full Moon Over Carmel, Indiana"] has inspired me to write this week. I've been in a dry spell for about 6 months, but your poem reminded me that there is poetry in every moment, and I am always welcome, as a songwriter, to try to capture it. I wrote a new song last evening when I got home from the Spud Puppies/King Wilkie concert...

23 June 2005

Well, thank you for the compliments [about my singing and songwriting]. Music is a wonderful vehicle for communication of things difficult to express in ordinary words. I like very much the depths of your poetry as well. I'm glad my first exposure to it was hearing your reading - it adds so much more dimension to poetry to hear it read aloud, especially by the author. You know, that's one thing that always surprised me about Alison Krauss' music - she doesn't write any of it, yet she sings it from the depths of her soul as if each line emotes some deeply personal experience. She is truly a gifted woman.

Kriss Luckett
Indianapolis, IN
9 July 2005

July 2005


What a fine bountiful collection [Looking for God's Country]! How close you are to the beloved homeland. Everywhere in the book you touch the very heart of things, and once again demonstrate the great possibilities of the art, your art. Profound thanks for doing it and letting me share it.

Lucien Stryk
Lake Bluff, IL

4 June 2005


I have read and reread your new book Looking for God's Country. It is so expressive to and for me. I hope to hear your voice put to these thoughts in person some time. It was a thrill to read your letter to a new Hoosier Millennium as the opening to the collection of poems. Thank you for returning to Indiana. We are proud to call you a real Hoosier.

Judy O'Bannon

23 3 June 2005


Thank you so very much for sending your wonderful book, Blue-Eyed Grass, as Deborah Lipman Cochelin [Klara Krapf was her great-great-aunt] asked you to... It is hard for me to express the feelings I felt when I read your poems about my Grand Aunt, Klara Krapf. It was a feeling of enlightenment, sorrow and remorse.

I was quite young when I saw a great deal of my Grandmother, Philipina Krapf Meuhlenthal [Klara Krapf's sister] and I can't recall her telling me, nor does my sister, Doris Weinberg, who is three years older than I, anything about her past life or siblings. There was a time in the 1920s when Pina and her husband, Leo Meuhlenthal, lived in St. Augustine, Florida. Leo died there in 1929 and Pina returned to New York where she lived with her son and daughter in law, Sonia, and Julius Mulane. The name was anglicized during the first World War by Julius and my Father, Philip. Pina would then spend a number of winters in Savannah [where other Jewish Krapf relatives lived] staying at the home of Jerome and his family. In later years she developed what we know today as Alzheimers Disease and her sons placed her in a home where she died in 1945. I have the memory of my grandmother and she looks exactly like my great-grandmother, Babetta!

I am sorry that I cannot shed any more light on the [Jewish] Krapf family, but I am indebted to Deborah and you for all you have told me...I started to read Blue-Eyed Grass as soon as I received it and enjoyed the first few poems, then my curiosity got the better of me and I turned to the ones about Klara Krapf and as I told you, I was consumed by it. I have since finished all of the book and I look forward to reading and enjoying your wonderful works.

Wally Mulane, 85
Deerfield Beach, FL

23 May 2005

[The following two e-mails are from Deborah Lipman Cochelin, a cousin of Wally Mulane. Deborah was the first descendant of Klara Krapf to discover the Klara Krapf poems in Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany and to make contact with the author.]


I recently stumbled across your name and a website article about your poetry, in which you described a Klara Krapf who perished in the Holocaust. My great-grandmother, Theresia Krapf, had a sister, Klara Krapf, who too perished in the Holocaust, and all of whose siblings emigrated to the US. Klara's father was a Rabbi in Würzburg, Germany, Rabbi Wilhelm [Wolf] Meyer Krapf. I noted from your article that the name Krapf was given to a "Meier" family. Could there be some connections between us?

Deborah Lipman Cochelin
Seattle, WA

12 Dec. 2002


Thanks so much for forwarding on these [Klara Krapf] materials today so that I could get a flavor of them. Brian [Krapf, a cousin of DC who lives in Savannah, GA] sent me the ID earlier, and I think I was so focused on work that I numbed myself to it. Tonight, I have had a chance to "settle in" a bit, and the tears are coming to my eyes as I see the photo [of Klara] again with the dates and the documents. I always knew somewhere in my heart that I must have had relatives who perished in the Holocaust. However, this is the first time in my life I have ever had a name and a face.

I grew up with children whose parents were Holocaust survivors, and knew about the camps, and saw the tatoos and heard the stories of people who survived the medical experiments. If you are a fan of Pat Conroy's works, and have ever read "Beach Music," the introduction to the book references his inspiration for writing the book, a woman with whom I grew up whose parents survived the camps. They ended up in Charleston, my home town, only as the result of someone knowing someone who lived in America who happened to live in Charleston. They arrived in New York on a Thanksgiving day, and didn't even know what Thanksgiving was, and by the next day were in Charleston. Some of their children still live there. Bottom line is now that this is hitting home for me the first time in my life. And, just as an aside, on a more pleasant note, the beach referenced in the book, Sullivan's Island, is the beach on which I grew up.

Deborah Lipman Cochelin
Seattle, WA

16 Dec. 2002


Norbert Krapf's new collection illustrates, again, the "Master Builder" poet he is, from foundation to conclusion in a fashion and with materials that so embrace the particular landscape he has chosen to site a poem. The poems are evocative and so fresh and perceptive they attained a spiritual foothold within this reader. It was such a pleasure to read Looking for God's Country. One could write at some length about individual poems, but here one wishes to cite, reverentially, the stunning Epilogue, in and of itself worth "the price of admission."

Saul Bennett
Woodstock, NY

23 May 2005


I've spent the last forty years trying to explain to my "outside world" friends just what it was like growing up in Jasper. You have pegged every moment, brought back memories that should never have been forgotten. Your writing is very tender and I've had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. But as I read "The Labor Day Boxes" I giggled. I have told this story about the Labor Day boxes many times and absolutely no one believes it. I think it must be a Jasper thing. I remember some of the older kids on my W. 5th St block, Buddy Schiller and some of the Birge kids built entire city blocks with multiple-story buildings and dragged them down to the County Courthouse Square, and then everything was set on fire after we all assembled. I guess some of these peculiar entertainments have gone by the wayside.

I thank you for being the voice of Southern Indiana. It makes me evermore proud to be from The Country I Come From... I bought more of your books from Amazon and will spread them among my friends.

Ann Wallace Nichols
Atlanta, GA

9 May 2005


How did the reading [at C.W. Post] go? I did get a chance to buy your latest book about a month ago. I wish I could've heard some of it read, especially the poem "Dark and Deep," my favorite in that book. One particular line from that poem really touched me, because it goes down to the core of my beliefs: "It was / the thrill of not knowing where / he was going or what might come / that gave a slight bounce to his step..." I think too many times people, including myself, become so concerned about the future and everything that must take place, that they forget about enjoying the moment, enjoying the fact that the future is uncertain and in a sense everything is possible. Perhaps that wasn't your intention when you wrote that poem, but I'm truly happy you were able to bring forth that idea, even if only to my eyes.

Shakira Acosta
New Hyde Park, Long Island

19 April 2005


Norb, it was such a treat having you here, at St. Joseph's College and the Prairie Arts Council, and generous of you to share the spotlight with Becky and James, our student writers. I like so many poems in God's Country - especially the "Dark and Deep" one and its companion across the page, "What I Found in the Woods." The opening is exactly what I remember in that long past time when I went squirrel hunting by myself and would hear voices echoing around the hills above the Wabash River. Come back whenever you can.

Charles Kerlin
Rensselaer, In.

7 April 2005


The titles of Norb Krapf's books tell you that he is a poet of place. Peter Hessler in River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, a memoir about his experience as a Peace Corps volunteer college English teacher, recalled that to the Chinese, the place makes the people. As an American, Hessler thought that people make the place. Actually both processes constitute the dynamics of place, the place offering certain possibilities like hard wood trees and the people offering their talents for turning hard wood into furniture. Norb's poetry captures both dynamics, the potential as well as the limitations of a milieu and the strengths and weaknesses of those who call a given place home.

John Groppe
Rensselaer, IN

April 5, 2005


I picked up Blue-Eyed Grass and began with a little Reimenschneider and Dürer. I've seen that kind of poetry in your other work, so I began devouring the dust jacket blurbs. Boy, the front flap by Martin Greenberg really got to me, so I looked at the table of contents. I saw what he was talking about, your coming to grips with the whole negative side of German history, which ... I had to deal with as well.

So anyway, I turned to the back section and began. I often let out vocal cries and had to slam the book on my finger. Then I'd open it and read another poem, and sometimes the book actually shook like it was under its own Ouigi-board type power. I was completely overcome. The Oven with Daniel. His simple 9-year old comment. Elizabeth's inability to enter. The "spa city in the East" and the conditions there. The track at the Würzburg station. The meeting of Michael and Meir, and their goodbye, and the "schön für Kinder" of your friend, and the way your inquiries were met in the ghetto, the Judenhof, in Klara's hometown of Wonfurt, by the evasions and lies. Oh boy.

You are a hero of the highest kind because you could have toed the line on the German side of the history. Your status and sales would have been both enhanced and desecrated in one stroke. You could have chosen never to deal with the Question and you would have been a segment artist forever. Embracing the whole of the History has confirmed what always was: You write simple things very, very well, and that is the essence of elegance.You do that and let the chips fall where they fall. You do what is right. You do what hurts, if necessary. It's like the "Skinning the Rabbit" in Somewhere in Southern Indiana, but on a cosmic scale.

James Peter Louviere
New Iberia, Louisiana

23 March 2005


I can't remember when I've enjoyed a volume of verse so, affirming what Philip Larkin insists, how in enduring poetry - as in yours - "Readability is credibility," your poems in Looking for God's Country always tuning-fork true, the facile ease of saying within a prayerlike, hushed, chapel-tone register, "The time has come / to come home, Mother. / I can hear your quiet voice / sing these words, / and the tune is right." Always just right, and always within the heart's hearing and yearning.

And such range, such an embrace of time and words and people: "I say open the gates, let people walk toward one another.... Let poems and songs break down the walls.... Let this pure language flow." And always, your very own Vestigia Dei, these very "traces and shadows of God," even under"Moon Shadows," even "...on my father's workbench, / in the furnace room of the basement...."

And like another Far Wanderer, our Dante, you too find a place for the heart to rest, teach us that there is indeed a "God's Country," where we find, along with the truth of ourselves, the little that all is: just "to hear / the turtlecove coo / in the pines at dusk" There can't be more than this! That Norbert Krapf voice I've heard for 25 years sings [in this book] for all of us.

Vince Clemente
Sag Harbor, Long Island

17 March 2005


My name is Jerry Newton and even though I have lived in NYC for the past 26 years I hail from Jasper, Indiana. My father was Jack Newton and my mother is Rose Marie (Gramelspacher) Newton. I was home for the holidays and stopped by the Dubois County Museum (the old Gramelspacher House) and picked up some of your books and just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed them. I got my BA in History from Indiana University and have always loved reading about the early German settlers in southern Indiana. Just wanted to let you know that your books were very enjoyable and I hope you continue writing about our great heritage.

Jerry Newton
New York City

January 14, 2004


I honestly had not heard of you until last fall when I came across your latest book while at Barnes & Noble in Indianapolis. The cover caught my eye, as I am a lover of autumn. I knew the picture had to be of somewhere in my beloved Indiana. After I started paging through it, I saw a side of poetry I hadn't experienced before. To be honest, I never was into poetry that much; I didn't understand much of what poetry I had read up to that point, let alone know how to write it myself. Reading your words was like opening a window, not only one leading to your soul, seeing where you came from, but also to my own soul, realizing, too, where I have been, and possibly where I am going. I have a German/Cherokee background, and it was refreshing to read of other lives living similar situations and feeling likewise emotions.

I was very impressed with your style -- I like to call it "intricate simplicity," if you will; an oxymoronic description of emotions stemming not only from a sense of place but a true sense of self, and others' sense of self. I plan to dive into more of your works and gain a further appreciation for your poetry and prose...for what I now consider one of the finer things in life. Thank you for your descriptions: picturesque, timely, appropriate, applicable, and memory-inspiring. They also inspire me to make more time for myself to write more of what I feel is buried deep inside me, from the places where I've been to the places where I may be going. You not only possess a sense of place and self, but are truly a writer who commands a sense of respect. I shall be so lucky to even come close to expressing myself in the same manner -- giving much but not excessively, affecting another in a way that they have not felt imposed upon but rather that they, too, have "been there, done that."

Cheryl Soden Moreland
Indianapolis, Indiana

November 17, 2003


Dear Norb,
Last night I totally treated my soul by finally logging on to your website. After reading comments from so many people that I am a part of and they a part of me, I finally sat down and read The Country I Come From. It is heart wrenching. I have always known the feelings that come over me on the drive from Louisville to Jasper, but never realized the significance is the same to others.

Still today my inner being is shocked by "Return to a Mighty Fortress." I walked through that whole evening with you, Jack, and Jeff. I see you driving out of the Skyline area, down Ritter's hill, sneaking into the church, all 3 sheets to the wind, and Jeff dramatically opening the lid to the console, then with a flourish playing the melodies we will forever have ingrained . I regret that I was not there to share this great adventure. Of course, Mick and I feel honored to have our very own poem in the book. Thank you for holding on to our roots for us. I am amazed at how you hear and feel who you are.

Mary Ellen Stenftenagel
Fort Worth, Texas

December 3, 2002


The Country I Come From arrived yesterday and it overturned my plans for the day. I stopped and read it before dinner, after, and again before bed. Your joy and sorrow mixing with mine. Thank you!
Mary Ann Allison

October 20, 2002


Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed The Country I Come From. I especially enjoyed The Labor Day Boxes (no one we know out here has ever heard of such a thing) and Saturday Night at the Calumet (it was so unbelievably accurate). I also loved the ones about your mother------they are beautiful.
Joyce Burger Bohnert

September 25, 2002


I think that The Country I Come From contains some of your very best poetry. As you can imagine, I go for the nature poems most of all, for those texts where you see yourself at a distance (of memory) and let the language, the sound, the imagery, do its own work to make the reader, me, feel corresponding emotions, create images in my mind. Also I have the feeling that you have put exceptionally hard work into the formal polish of the poems in this book: line cuts, sound play, shorter and longer stanza units and so forth. I find echoes of quite a bit of twentieth-century American poetry in these texts and I like it because it creates a very fruitful tension between the rural, regional subject and the modernist approach. I might use a few of the texts in my upcoming seminar on Multiculturalism because they present something most of our students don't know anything about: the German presence in America.

Helmbrecht Breinig
Director, American Studies
University of Erlangen

September 25, 2002


It was great hearing you share your thoughts about your poems in The Country I Come From at the Dubois County Museum in Jasper. Hearing them out loud in your voice just makes the words leap & jump, cause sadness, happiness and especially warmth from within of memories of years gone by. I never realized that you had the opportunities of so many down-home farm experiences. I thought I was one of the few kids living in town that got to spend weeks 'down home on the farm.'

One interesting thing about the thoughts and insights in your writings is that they include both Jim's and my childhood and therefore the lives of both our parents also. So many of your poems are of your own deep personal feelings that you share with everyone! Many of these perplexing feelings are the same that most of us have experienced but are never able to share with anyone. Your love and admiration for your parents, brothers, sisters, wife, children and friends shine through but also your inadequacies, shyness, and questions of life are forever present. The more I read your poems, the more I am able to understand myself!"

Marilyn Hass Gutgsell

August 31, 2002


It's a beautiful book, a great range of memory and connection, many layered and reaching in unexpected ways, narrative at times, lyric at others. The effect is almost choral in places.

Robert Morgan
Cornell University

August 9, 2002


Just wanted to let you know I finished your book, The Country I Come From, and I enjoyed it tremendously! You have a wonderful gift and I am happy that I know someone who can put into words life's experiences and say it in such a moving, enjoyable way! When I read your poems, I feel like I am right there wherever it is you are writing about.
Nancy Teder
Jasper, IN

August 28, 2002


Congratulations on the publication of The Country I Come From. I just wanted to tell you again how much Rene and I enjoyed your recent reading at the Walt Whitman House. That was one of the larger crowds I've seen for a reading in quite some time; your flock is expanding. I mentioned to Rene during the reading that as a student of yours, I found your passion and love of poetry infectious and inspiring. In listening to your words - some 15 years after my days in your classroom - it seems that your appreciation for poetry has only gotten stronger over time. Hearing your perspective reminds me of the importance of poetry in my own life - something that inexplicably escapes me periodically as the years slip by and the weight of everyday presses down. It is a true gift that you possess; thank you for making it your lifetime commitment to sharing it with others.
Ed Dumas
New York

August 2, 2002 10:18 AM


Hi Norb!--as you see i am visiting your website and i am eagerly awaiting the arrival of your new book!--i guess we've known each other for 25 years now!--i have to read all of the published work because i know i am behind and your output is immense!--i can say i knew you WHEN!--this is such a good website and i am about to start browsing--maybe order another book or two...

14 August 2001 9:41 AM


Dear Norbert, not for the first time I've been catching up with you on your impressive website.... Thanks for your recent news that Archer Books will be bringing out a new collection.... You deserve readers by the thousands, old friends.
Bill Heyen

February 21, 2001 8:21 AM


Norbert, Your website is wonderful. So many positive comments given you by devoted guests. You have worked hard and your fruit is coming forth. I bought your Long Island book at the Flower Stall here in Jasper. This book is a great addition to your many works. I keep going back and rereading. The poems speak of you and connections familiar to both of us. What a treasure you have given us all!
Warm regards,
Sue Klein
Jasper, Indiana

17 Dec. 2000 11.23 a.m.


I found your site through the Newsday article (section G, Long Island Life) of 10/1/00. I have lived 65 years on Long Island, and all my years on the LIE I never saw its blurred beauty you captured so well. I have been motivated to keep writing poetry. Thank you.
Long Island

3 Oct. 2000 8:35 p.m


Dear Norbert,
I just finished reading your newest book, Bittersweet Along the Expressway: Poems of Long Island, and I am so touched by your ability to turn ordinary things and events of life into the most extraordinary with your words! Because I know you, your family, and your home, your poems are especially dear to my heart. The images you evoke of Long Island are very familiar ones for me as well. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit my sorely-missed hometown whenever I want to through your poems.
Penn State University

18 August, 2000


I greatly enjoyed meeting you and hearing you at the Humboldt-Uni tonight. After I finished working, I began reading your book "Blue-Eyed Grass: Poems of Germany" on the U-bahn, and was again so deeply touched by your work. You address so utterly honestly and movingly issues that are very close to my own heart. I, too, have lifelong ties to this country, but since I live here now, I have lost a bit of my sense of wonder and objectivity. Experiencing it through your eyes and words is already reawakening things in my own mind and heart. I thank you for this.
I will also be ordering some extra copies of your book for gifts for some friends of mine as well as for my mother, all of whom will react as I am reacting! You really made me re-experience Freiburg tonight---one of my very favorite places.
Best wishes, Carol Rodland

18 June 2000

Re: TASA Award

Dear Norb,
Congrats on your achievement award, but I hope you have lots of lifetime to continue to keep us entertained with your writings and poetry. We are anxiously awaiting your next publication. Sounds terrrific. Have a great summer.
Jim and Lee Ann Landrum

23 May, 2000 3:59 PM


Norbert, You can thank my sister, Beverly, for introducing me to you. HA! I graduated 1962 from Jasper High School. She sent me your book re So. Indiana poems and enjoyed it a lot. We looked you up in the yearbook and remembered your face. I am so glad to see that the word about the Jasper community is out. It is indeed a unique place and Germany would be proud. Congratulations in all your successes...
Maxine Weigel Hurley, Anderson, IN

23 May, 2000 3:01 PM


Dear Norbert,
I finally found your site, and am enjoying every moment. You have truly brought me home to southern Indiana. Wth best wishes,
Beverly Weigel Castelli; born and raised in Jasper, In

22 May, 2000 8:39 PM

Re: TAS Award

Congratulations. You and Catherine and Daniel look great. I assume Elizabeth was on one of her fabulous tours when you received the TAS Award. Good luck on your Germany readings. Looking forward to your new collection.

21 May, 2000 9:58 PM


I remember reading your work in MEASURE more than thirty five years ago. I was impressed then as I am impressed now. Stay with it and I shall be a visitor again -- I lived in Germany for a couple of years as a grad student (Heidelberg to Muenchen) but my German is really non - existent now (classes were in English). Seeing Jim Muth's comments also brought back some memories of long ago Indiana -- Thanks for the address in Contact
Best Wishes
Jerry Buszta
My 10 year old (who is at my shoulder right now) also says hello!

20 May, 2000 7:53 PM


You've given another extraordinary gift to me, my daughter and some young poets around me. I have stayed close to you in my way, reading all, always in amazement at the depth of your gifts and your generosity. Wonderful life's work. I will come to the site often as I have come to your work.
James Muth
Berea, Ohio

15 May, 2000 7:35 PM EDT


Hi! Best of luck with your website. This is the first time that I have seen it: nice pictures that do not take very long to load.
Edmund Miller
Flushing, New York

4/07/2000 20:46 pm EDT


Dear Norbert,
Thoroughly enjoyed this exquisite site. Ever since the task of deciphering and translating the Latin letters of Rev. Joseph Kundek for your wonderful book, Finding The Grain, the essence of that incredible pioneer -- and the places and their history his letters elucidate -- together with the composite result of your own labor of love have continued to resonate within me. Thank you for that abiding experience.
Best regards,
Timothy Flannery, NYC

1/20/2000 12:26 pm EDT


We are thoroughly enjoying your website. We particularly like the audio readings, and of course, the pictures! We will keep checking the site to see if anything new comes up.
Elfrieda and Leon Fleck
Jasper, IN

1/18/2000 8:56 pm EDT


I was born in East Prussia, Germany before WW II started. I am very impressed with your poems about Germany. They almost make me homesick.
Hiltrud Maria (Masuch) Webber
Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch! :-)

12/18/1999 3:56 pm EDT


Lieber Norbert!
Brad und ich sind aufs höchste beeindruckt vom Format und der Qualität Deines Werkes!
Herzlichen Glückwunsch!
Brad und Ingeborg Miller

12/7/1999 11:06 pm EDT


We love his work. Still talk about the chance meeting in the Jasper Library a few years ago.
Jim and Lee Ann Thacker Landrum, his Missouri Cousins.

12/6/1999 7:49 pm EDT


A colleague just gave me your URL. I am very intrigued. A special interest of mine, and also my heritage, is 19th century German American immigration and I have already assembled a fair amount of documentation, as well as acquiring fluency in the language of my forefathers, wenigstens die Hochsprache.

11/24/1999 10:13 pm EDT


So Norb! You have achieved an exemplary method of connecting with your audience, whether they know it or not! Very delightful and refreshing in the midst of late semester academic workings.
Bill Roba
Scott Community College
Bettendorf, Iowa

11/19/1999 8:20 pm EDT


Few can forge poetry from the geography of their memory. You have.
Regards from the desert.

11/9/1999 9:30 pm EDT


I did enjoy everything on the site. It was a nice break coming home and looking at part of it. I have sent it to my friends here at Indiana State, and the things they have observed have been nice according to their comments.
Maria Feltner
Music Major
Indiana State University

10/22/1999 9:30 pm EDT


What a wonderful idea! Lookin' good, too. I can't wait to read Blue-Eyed Grass. I am particularly taken with yet another connector in our work: the quote, "Relationships run deeper than blood." As you know, the Poetry Repertory Theatre's next endeavor will be about relationships.
Susan Melchior, Director
Poetry Repertory Theatre

10/18/1999 10:36 am EDT


Have enjoyed your books so much. Hope your new web page will encourage others to read your works.
Joan Griffis
Genealogy Columnist

10/15/1999 11:36 am EDT


Mr. Poet and Herr Webmaster:
There is only one thing missing in this site: Classical Eros. We therefore recommend that you include some of the poet's luscious Helga Poems, as represented by five on the Ixion of England site. With this addition, you will have achieved completion.
Lover of All Things Full and Complete

10/14/1999 7:36 am EDT


Norbert -- I was really impressed with the effect of the 'scenery.' Suddenly I saw you in the poems in the place you wrote about -- it added a completely different dimension because environment is so important in your poems. Many congratulations on this site -- it is really wonderful!!
University of Tel Aviv

10/12/1999 6:16 am EDT


I've enjoyed surfing the new website and it will be great keeping up with you this way!
Karen Dorrell,
WITZ Radio, Jasper IN

10/11/1999 4:16 pm EDT


Congratulations Norb on this website. I am pleased to enter my name in the guestbook and wish you many other visitors.
Margaret Hallissy
Professor of English
Long Island University / C.W. Post Campus

10/11/1999 6:24 pm EDT


Very impressive, technologically and content.
Jerry Glenn
University of Cinncinnati

10/11/1999 6:44 am EDT


Fred and I just marveled at the wonder of hearing your poem about first contact read, first by you in English, and then by Helmut [Haberkamm] auf Deutsch. A really nicely done website, and the audio parts are an inspiration.
Kathy Hill-Miller and Fred Miller

10/10/1999 12:34 pm EDT


Larry and I are here in my office reading your poems... Great website and beautiful poems. Larry and Beth Gray.

10/09/1999 6:52 pm EDT


A perfectly beautiful website! I've only had time for a cursory visit, but shall do more when time permits. I especially love the illustrations and design - as a painter of flowers, I liked the choice of prints and their arrangement. Also the Durer woodcut - but everything is lovely. Norbert, it's all very impressive when you see the whole life-work in one place.
Zelda Austen,
Professor Emerita, English Dept., Long Island University.

9/27/1999 5:17 pm EDT


Very nice site!

9/21/1999 6:52 pm EDT


I am a German friend visiting Roslyn Heights in gusts and driving rain. I just browsed through Norbert Krapf's website and I must say I am thoroughly impressed to see and hear so many delightful texts and details. Congratulations on your website! May many people profit from this resourceful and rewarding address! Best wishes,
Helmut Haberkamm from Erlangen, Franconia.

9/16/1999 1:30 pm EDT


Hello Norbert! My name is Michael Koondel (7th grade English teacher at M.M.S.) and I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed your web page. After your poetry reading at Barnes & Noble last year, I was instantly a fan. It's really wonderful that you have published your work on the Internet and I look forward to any additions.

9/9/1999 4:38 pm EDT

Ruth Reichmann

Love your site - love your poems.

8/21/1999 1:06 pm EDT



Date and Time