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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.
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.
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
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
4 February 2009
Hi, this is Mark Horney Jasper High School Class of
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.
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
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.
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
Looking forward to your next book.
Barb Kunkel Keusch
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
Congratulations on all your recent
accomplishments. We'll have to talk soon.
Love from a
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. So......read 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.
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
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.
on becoming the poet laureate. That is a special honor. You are going to be
a busy man.
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.
1 July 2008
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.
Arts Council of Wells County, Inc.
1 July 2008
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.
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
Shade of the Raintree*
New York City
24 June 2008
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.
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.
17 June 2008
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
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.
28 April 2008
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.
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.
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.
9 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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
November 17, 2003
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
3 Oct. 2000 8:35 p.m
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
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 |
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Flushing, New York
4/07/2000 20:46 pm EDT
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.
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
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
Brad und ich sind aufs höchste beeindruckt vom
Format und der Qualität Deines Werkes!
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
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.
Scott Community College
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
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.
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!
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.
Professor of English
Long Island University / C.W. Post Campus
10/11/1999 6:24 pm 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.
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
Love your site - love your poems.
8/21/1999 1:06 pm EDT
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