Curlew-born poet and essayist Tom Montag will be at the Webb Public
Library from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Monday, February 24, 2003, to discuss
how he wrote his farm memoir, Curlew:Home, and to offer tips for those
interested in recording their own life stories or family histories.
The session will include readings from both of Montag's recent books,
Curlew:Home and Kissing Poetry's Sister, discussion of his current "Vagabond
In the Middle" project examining our middle western lives, as well
as ample opportunity for asking questions about handling the material
of one's own life or family history. Montag's presentation is free and
open to the public.
Montag's Curlew:Home describes his years growing up on a farm a mile
south and a quarter mile west of Curlew during the 1950s, interspersed
with the journal of a trip he made back to his hometown in October,
2000. Montag believes that, while Curlew:Home tells his story and that
of his family, it also represents many other middle western farm people
who have no one to speak for them. Several readers have told the author:
"This could be the story of my life." Columnist Myram Tunnicliff
wrote in the Emmetsburg Democrat that Curlew:Home should speak to every
person "for whom the land holds meaning." It is a tribute
"to the values of the entire middle west," she said.
Donna Seaman at Booklist magazine called Curlew:Home a "companionable
and reverent memoir" and said "Montag's prose is thoughtful
and unhurried, opening out into moments of beauty and wry humor, echoing
in its quiet rhythms and low-key observations the gentle roll of the
rich midwestern landscape he loves.... He celebrates the country's most
overlooked and underestimated region and movingly portrays his hardworking
and loving parents."
The popular public radio show Prairie Home Companion has kept a selection
from Curlew:Home on its web site in the "Stories for Home"
feature at www.prairiehome.org for the past year and a half.
Last October Montag published a collection of essays about writing and
being a writer, Kissing Poetry's Sister. Some of these pieces speak
directly about the characteristics of good essays; during his presentation
Montag will apply those principles to memoir and family history.
Jessica Powers at newpages.com wrote of Kissing Poetry's Sister: "Tom
Montag has a gentle style; he writes with depth-thought and emotion
are carefully balanced and you get the sense as you read this that here
is a wise man-not a perfect man, but a good man-and he is letting us
into his house and his life for a few moments each day so we can experience
the richness that is his.... I look forward to reading whatever Montag
writes in the future."
In Creativity Connection Marshall Cook called Montag's collection "a
marvelous book of prose."
Montag is the author of more than twenty other books and chapbooks including
a big collection of his earlier poems, Middle Ground, and more recently
selections from his "Ben Zen" poems, one titled The Ox of
Paradox, another called The More I Know. Now he is readying The Big
Book of Ben Zen for publication and is working on a collection of poems
called Plain Poems: A Fairwater Daybook. Montag has published essays
on a wide array of topics in such magazines as The Baybury Review, Bellowing
Ark, Cream City Review, Flyway, The Heartlands Today, The Journal of
Unconventional History, The Midday Moon, New Stone Circle, North Dakota
Quarterly, Northeast, and Rosebud.
Montag's poem "Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain"
is one of 60 works by Wisconsin writers permanently incorporated into
the design of the Midwest Express Convention Center in Milwaukee.
Montag recently retired from a career in the printing industry to devote
himself full time to his writing. He and Mary, his wife of more than
30 years, live in Fairwater, Wisconsin. The couple has two grown daughters,
Jenifer and Jessica. The web site for Montag's "Vagabond"
project can be found at: www.wlhn.org/vagabond.
Copies of Montag's books will be for sale after his presentation at
the Web Public Library.