EARLY REVIEWS of GRANT WOOD COUNTRY LOOSE LEAF POEMS and SOME AMERICAN GOTHIC GIRLS—
REACTION to GRANT WOOD COUNTRY LOOSE LEAF POEMS:
From the Forward by Sarah Cartwright, Des Moines area writer/literary enthusiast:
Anyone who has not grown up Iowan -- or grew up Iowan but somehow missed the venerated magic of Woods’ stomping grounds -- will know it now, through the veritable heartbeat that courses through this illustrious collection of poems by Elaine Mattingly.
Ms. Mattingly has woven a rich, varied and life-affirming work, firmly rooted in Iowa soil. Her words celebrate; give witness to; question, tease, and dare. Above all, they feed - as well as free - our senses, with the sheer sensuousness and sensuality of being ALIVE. I just want to weep at this.
The loose-leaf format grants each poem a singular dignity, in time and place; presented individually to the reader, they are each their own gifts. The well-chosen typeface completes the hand-wrought aesthetic with a rough-hewn honesty, aligning itself with the bold - and exquisite - wood-cut cover.
These are beautifully written and timeless poems. I did not think I could so relish a poem in which the words are spaced unevenly, or scattered across the page as a field of wildflowers. However, in its entirety, this poet’s instinct for word placement is inventive, exuberant, and wonderfully disarming.
As a collection, these poems are truly the heart of the heart of the country. The landscapes and people live in Elaine, and she in them: this speaks to Ms. Mattingly’s profound receptiveness to her natal and ancestral environment and those who have dwelled within it; and outward further, to a greater humanity.”
REVIEW by Rita Baker, president of Arts Connection of Jasper County, Iowa:
I was honored to be asked by Elaine Dailey Mattingly to read her “Grant Wood Country Loose Leaf Poems” collection. As an old English teacher and editor, I had my proofreading eye on point. But by the second poem, my heart and soul were fully engaged and I fell in love. This collection spoke to me as an Iowan and a country girl at heart. But far beyond, I was taken back through time and memories, which proved to be a most delightful and poignant journey. Elaine has captured the art and the essence of Grant Wood Country. I invite you to take the journey as well. —Rita
REVIEW by Dorothy Bunting Montgomery, author of Stone Fruit, an authentic historical fiction novel set in Grant Wood Country & New York City:
I wish you could see the smile on my face as I read your collection. I’m going to share an old cliché – “there are not words - to describe what I felt”… visually and emotionally where the words took me, and what a joy to read about one’s homeland. The message at the start to the Reader was excellent! As I read your writing, it took me back to the girl (now woman) I always thought you to be – beyond intelligent, creative, fearless/uninhibited, fun, and possessing a great sense of depth and foresight. I hope you hear all as compliments because they are. What blew me away is I could hear these attributes in your poetry. I do want to schedule time to talk with you about them – as I have so many questions, i.e. which ones did you write/start when you were sitting up in the old walnut tree? What style did you use for Leaf’s Lament, Country Girl Blues, and Instructions (what a great title by the way for a poem)? I loved all of them and will always be partial to Some American Gothic Girls, but I have some new favorites, i.e. Taking Stock (read this three times in a row laughing ...), The Dutch Woman Embroiders Juneteenth, I love You But, and …. what a great idea to do Stone City Road. The Notes section at the back – brilliant! I can’t wait to talk with you more about this! Bravo dear friend and congratulations!!! Keep writing! —Love, Dorothy
REVIEW by Iowa historian Paul C. Juhl (author of several books on Grant Wood, and sought-after source for all things Grant Wood):
Many thanks for sending Grant Wood Country Loose Leaf Poems to me. I knew they might have a country feel to them so I ran off my copy and drove to a favorite place along the Iowa River to read them. Now I know this river isn't the Wapsi but it would have to do!! I was right, at least in some ways, but my mind always went to the river valley of Stone City and your Grant Wood country, not Iowa City. I read them aloud and enjoyed all of them. Being older, I smiled at Instructions and thought about my own demise. :o) I especially liked the way you have explained your reason for writing each of them and I wondered if you would present this before your reading of each poem? But my reading didn't do them justice. When I came home, I went to your website and also the Telepoem Booth site and really enjoyed hearing you read some of your own work, especially Some American Gothic Girls. Your strong. determined voice gave the poem even more meaning to me.
It is so much fun for me to see how other arts can tie into the story of Grant Wood. I have always viewed things through the lens of the historian and research and I am so happy that your poetry will be part of our efforts in Anamosa. I felt much the same about Dorothy's book and how she worked the story of Grant and Nan into a wonderful novel. The summers of the Stone City Art Colony tried to do the same. I found this reference that I thought you might enjoy. It is from Hazel Brown's book.
"Visitors overflowed the grounds on Sundays, and country programs were popular entertainment: accordion, dulcimer, and fiddle duets. Jay Sigmund, acting as master of ceremonies, would read some of his poems. People came from miles around. In the Wapsie Valley, they still talk about it as if it must have been a dream."
Yes, Grant Wood territory is most certainly "locales chockful of beauty ad practicality." Your poems are enjoyable and inspiring.