Bones of Brick and Mortar


  In a book which is one third full-color photographs, Pichaske meditates upon the abandoned buildings of Lodz, Poland, and his own backyard in Southwestern Minnesota, telling stories about their origins, speculating on what caused their demise, recording what (if anything) has been done with them.
     A Brief Foreword     v    
1.  Bones of Bricks and Mortar     1    
2.  Advertisements     29    
3.  Advertisements for the Self     43
4.  Manufaktura     59    
5.  The White Factory     79    
6.  The Polish Fog, Part Two     95
7.  Apartments     117
8.  The Walking Dead     143
9.  Murals     159
10.  The Bone Yards     185
                       Sample Chapter
   Crying in the Wilderness: Essays Public and Private


  This book’s 28 essays explore four corners of Pichaske’s life.  Section 1 brings to American readers scholarly articles previously published overseas, on diverse writers from T. S. Eliot and Meridel LeSueur to the Beatles, and Dr. Seuss.  The essays of section II, which also reveal a certain scholarly depth, describe life in Illinois and Minnesota, what is today flyover country for most Americans but retains historical and cultural value for many.  Pichaske’s takes on politically correct academic life (section III) promise to be the most controversial of this book’s essays, especially his analysis of the regulations and policies which make one’s private business public business.  (Recent books like Henry Giroux’s Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education [2014] and periodicals like the September 2015 issue of The Atlantic corroborate Pichaske’s critique.)  Crying in the Wilderness closes with entertaining tales of Pichaske’s four years of Senior Fulbright Fellowships in the post-soviet East Bloc, observing the failure of communism, collecting old soviet medals, and exploring flyover country in Poland, Latvia, and Outer Mongolia. 

Sample Chapter

        Here I Stand


  Dr. Pichaske’s Beowulf to Beatles (1972) was one of the first poetry textbook-anthologies to include song song lyrics, recognizing the literary significance of people like the Beatles and Bob Dylan . . . winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Pichaske further established his credentials as spokesman for the sixties generation with A Generation in Motion (1979; translated into Greek in 2016), The Poetry of Rock (1981), and Song of the North Country: A Midwest Framework to the Songs of Bob Dylan (2010).

In the 1970s, like many members of his generation, Pichaske retreated to the country, developing a second life as editor-publisher of Spoon River Quarterly and Spoon River Poetry Press, author of The Jubilee Diary (1982), Late Harvest: Rural American Writing (1992), Southwest Minnesota: the Land and the People (2000), A Place Called Home (2003), and most recently Rooted: Six Midwest Writers of Place (2006). As editor-publisher of Spoon River Poetry Press and Ellis Press, Pichaske published over a hundred books by Midwestern authors.  “The voice of Midwestern Literature,” one critic called him.

In the late eighties and nineties, Pichaske went global, with four years of Fulbright fellowships to Poland, Latvia, and Outer Mongolia . . . each the subject of several articles and books including Poland in Transition (1994), UB03: A Season in Outer Mongolia (2003), and Bones of Bricks and Mortar (2017).

In Here I Stand, Pichaske explores these diverse selves, as well as life in the 1950s and today.  He also examines life inside the American university, where he has spent half a century.  Despite his significant scholarly accomplishments, academia has been rough on this sixties child, and like many others (Camille Paglia comes to mind), Pichaske critiques the direction higher education has taken in recent decades.  His analysis, sometimes a jeremiad, is as timely as it is interesting.

Children of the sixties who have traveled with Pichaske through confrontations with The System, through country retreats, through children and grandchildren, through global gallivanting of their own may find themselves nodding in silent understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment as they read this book.

Sample Chapter


  The Pigeons of Buchenau and Other Stories   “This is a wonderful collection, a smorgasbord of Pichaske stories, reports, and reflections.  From the narrator’s longings in the opening story to satiric wit in ‘The Department Meeting’ to the final pieces rooted in the author’s experiences in Buchenau, Pichaske gives us the fullness of himself—his wit, his dismays, his hopes, and his clear-eyed way of seeing the world for what it really is.  There’s even a delightful talking-dog story that should be read aloud at dinner parties in the company of dog owners and dog lovers everywhere.”
—Jim Heynen“David Pichaske shows remarkable range in The Pigeons of Buchenau.  From a talking dog to a department meeting at a ‘corn college’ to the Bavarian mountains, he speaks with a truth uncommon today.  While some of these stories are lovingly tender, others will smack you upside your head.  Pichaske has been at the writing game for decades and these stories will not disappoint.  All in all, a great read.”—Adrian C. Louis
The World According to Bear       
The Markuson Place        
The Department Meeting   
The Pigeons of Buchenau              
The Greening of Buchenau         
Reclaiming Buchenau     


        Southwest Minnesota: A Place of Many Places

  This book’s immediate predecessor drew on the writings of many southwest Minnesota authors to create a portrait of the land and its peoples. In Southwest Minnesota: A Place of Many Places Amato and Pichaske explore the region’s rich culture in their own words. From Amato’s analysis of regional lead cities like Worthington and New Ulm to Pichaske’s meditations on smaller towns like Minneota, Slayton, and Hanley Falls, the authors examine the ways this region has reacted to the changes and challenges of the late twentieth century. Along the way, they explore tiny points of interest like baseball diamonds, coffee shops, cemeteries, and small-town ethnic celebrations. Extended essays like “A Meditation on Enclosed Space,” and “Seen and Unseen Faces” offer penetrating reflections on the long arc of history in Southwest Minnesota and on the natural and constructed landscapes.
        UB03: A Season in Outer Mongolia

UBO3 Cover

  This book about Outer Mongolia was written and printed in Ulaanbaatar, Outer Mongolia. It thus truly embodies its subject. However, the true uniqueness of UB03 (Ulaanbaatar 2003) is that is an unsentimental, unromanticized portrait of a country which is still the edge of the known, looking out at the unknown. From the photo of a ger district on the front cover to the photo of the author, herder, and camel on the back cover, and through 150 pages of words and four-color photos, Pichaske describes the Mongolia he experienced on his Fulbright lectureship at National University.

Pichaske writes about the trash heap behind his apartment, about the black market, about excursions into the countryside, about opera singers and concerts at UB Palace, about Mongolian does and Mongolian fences, about the Gobi, about Mongolian reactions to George WMD Bush’s war in Iraq.

“[The book] provides some interesting vignettes about everyday life in a country we know little about and the frustrations American teachers can find for themselves when far away from home. It also contains provocative and sharply reproduced color photographs.”—Library Journal

        Exercises Against Retirement   Exercises Against Retirement is a selection of poems, displaying a multi-faceted author: father, son, lover, man of the world. Most poems in this book have previously appeared in little magazines and in two chapbooks, Jubilee College: Retrospective by Way of Explanation (1980) and Visiting the Father (1987). This collection presents Pichaske’s most original (and self-possessed) voice.

These poems open subtly to larger subjects: time and the passage of time, the American Dream, familial relations, religious themes. Several poems stand out as worthy of special attention: “Jan Jensen / Raku Jar / 1977” for its statement on the nature of art (and poetry); “Something on His Mind,” a critique of feminist clichés on men; the title poem, “Exercise Against Retirement #4,” in which Pichaske contrasts his own compulsion to explore further and then further to the stability (and reliability) of a clergyman friend.

70 pages
$5.95 paper

        A Generation in Motion: Popular Music and Culture in the Sixties

Generation in Motion cover

  Pichaske recreates the heady sixties in all their kaleidoscopic complexity. Disdaining the usual parade of presidents, generals, and politicos, this book gathers evidence from the people’s world, especially the music in which the real sixties mythology was created and distributed: the Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Doors, even lesser known singers like Phil Ochs and Leonard Cohen. Illustrated with 26 photographs, this rich and compelling book captures the idealism and pioneer spirit of a whole generation in motion.

“Pichaske goes beyond the usual litany of stars and hit songs to examine the music in the context of political, social, and cultural events . . . a very readable book which will be useful in larger collections where there is an interest in popular culture.”—Library Journal

“Pichaske’s analysis is thorough and generally thoughtful. . . . His book is pop sociology, but for its broad analysis of cultural trends, it is among the best of its kind.”—Publishers Weekly

“David Pichaske has been a favorite academic writer of mine since the publication of his anthology Beowulf to Beatles and his article, ‘Freshman Comp: What Is This Shit?’ The man has voice. His prose is so readable that it seems you’re not reading it but listening to it. . . . Buy this book.”—Darryl Hattenhauer, Journal of Popular Culture

“Although it is not specifically a Woodstock book, A Generation in Motion says the most, the most intriguingly, about the rise and fall of the Nation. . . . The real body of the book is extraordinarily moving . . . a skillful evocation of a period in which music was the primary art form of a social revolution.”—Eve Zibart, The Washington Post

262 pages
$14.95 cloth 0-944024-12-2
$10.95 paper 0-944024-16-5
(original publisher: Schirmer Books)

        The Jubilee Diary   Copies available for purchase

        Late Harvest: Rural American Writing

  From American fiction, poetry, and non-fiction of the 1970s and 1980s, Pichaske has selected generous and representative readings related to rural America, placing the new writers in the context of Old Ones like Henry Thoreau, Jean de Crevecoeur, Sherwood Anderson and Zona Gale. His general introduction and the foreword by Eugene J. McCarthy are followed by three sectional introductions to literature of the American small town, the farm, and the wilderness. Brief authors’ biographies suggest books for further reading. Among the 32 writers represented are Jim Heynen, Patricia Penton Leimbach, Donald Hall, Leo Dangel, Linda Hasselstrom, Maxine Kumin, Meridel Le Sueur, William Kloefkorn, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Mark Kramer, Noel Perrin, Wendell Berry, Garrison Keillor, Dave Etter, Carolyn Chute, William Gass, Carol Bly, Frederick Busch, Bobbie Ann Mason, bill Holm, Ann Zwinger, Paul Gruchow, Annie Dillard, Ed Abbey, Gary Snyder, Greg Keeler, Barry Holstun Lopez, Norbert Blei and Wallace Stenger.

“David Pichaske has shown rare intelligence in selecting stories, poems, and essays that build on and complement one another. The result is a unified, but multifaceted, view of American rural life . . . The writings wrestle with themes that are as ordinary yet as powerful as the seasons—birth and death, the uneasy balance between private and public life, the proper relationship of humans to the natural world. Late Harvest may draw on America’s agrarian roots for its inspiration, but it makes relevant and rewarding reading for city dwellers and rural residents alike.”—Osha Gray Davidson, Utne Reader

“Pichaske has pulled off an almost impossible task—he has put together a thick, meaty slab of a book of rural American writing that is highly entertaining and a good piece of scholarship as well.”—Glenda Burnside, The Bloomsbury Review

512 pages
$24.95 cloth
(original publisher: Paragon House)

        PCU: A Faculty and Staff Directory   The poems of this 38-page chapbook satirize politically correct academics circa Y2K, tracking the deterioration of higher education in America.  Among those present and accounted for are the Party Time President, the Valium Veep, the Victim, the Queen Bee, the New Deanette, the Postmodernist Poet, and the Conference King.  “I can’t publish these poems—they sound just like people at my school,” said the editor of one journal to whom the poems were submitted.  Thus this chapbook is authored by one John Charles Creed.

Poem from PCU:

The Human Rights Officer

It’s simple:
all rules apply, but not all the time.
Because we work on a case-by-case basis,
and always after the fact,
I cannot tell you in advance
just which regulations govern what,
or which behaviors might get you in trouble.
Each incident is considered in light of many factors.

Actually, the rules are quite clear:
they pertain only to persons in power positions . . .
unless those persons are members
of protected powerless groups.
I cannot list those groups,
because they are not officially protected
any more than they are officially powerless.
But you know who these groups are.

These are state mandates, and I am required
by law to take these rules seriously.
Infractions may lead to discipline
up to and including loss of employment.
So watch that invisible line, buster:
there are rules, and the rules may apply.
But don’t worry—everything is C O N F I D E N T I A L.
Nobody ever knows what goes down.

Just say nice things, and you should be okay.

        The Poetry of Rock   Copies available for purchase

        Poland in Transition   With the sharp eye of a sympathetic outsider, Pichaske examines life on the Polish streets during the country’s difficult transition from communism to free market capitalism. Recounting adventures in the markets, bureaus, hospital, and shops of his own working-class city of Lodz, and in the great old Polish cities of Krakow, Warsaw, Poznan, and Gdansk—as well as auto and train trips to Berlin, Leningrad, and Greece—he introduces artists, businessmen, bureaucrats, foresters, shopkeepers, street workers, students and intellectuals.

“Lively and interesting.”—Thomas Swick, author of Unquiet Days

“‘The old symbols are dead,’ muses one of Lech Walesa’s countrymen in this perceptive and seductive portrait. ‘All our lives it’s been the Party of the Church, but neither works any more.’ From 1989 to 1991 Pichaske was a Fulbright lecturer living in working-class Lodz. In these personal essays he chronicles the inflation, political chaos and economic reform as well as the cultural transformations that would result in Stalinist memorials being replaced by ads for Diet Coke and Levi jeans. . . . Pichaske loves the old Poland and realizes that the country’s venture into free market economics is not without its painful lessons. Still, his descriptions of Poland are always entertaining, especially in poetic ‘cityscapes’ and his comparisons of U.S. and Polish student life. . . . With a scholar’s analysis, a traveler’s practicality—as well as 95 worthwhile photographs—Pichaske illuminates many facets of the nation and its inhabitants.”—Publishers Weekly

“An interesting picture of Poland as it enters the 1990s and the world of capitalism.” —Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

246 pages
$11.95 paper

        The Secret Places of Southwest Minnesota






David Pichaske’s 40 years in Minnesota have provided him with more than one book. This book spans nearly that long in production, at least in terms of photography. The writing – closer to 10 years – detailing secret places in this corner of Minnesota, some of which are already gone by the time this book was published. Whether you live in the region or not, Pichaske’s details, the photographs, and the historical record within this book are worth reviewing. The old adage about things staying the same while they change just isn’t true in a rural area in 2020. 



        Southwest Minnesota: The Land and Its People   Southwest Minnesota: the Land and the People, a 128-page coffee table book, is a portrait of the region in photographs and the words of Robert Bly, Carol Bly, Phil Dacey, Leo Dangel, Hamlin Garland, Paul Gruchow, Jim Heynen, Bill Holm, Garrison Keillor, Meridel Le Sueur, Frederick Manfred, Joseph Nicollet, Tim O’Brien, Ole Rolvaag, Barton Sutter, Southwestern Minnesota is a haunting landscape marked by rich farmlands, forgotten villages, patches of vestigial prairie and slough, surprising rivers and wooded rills . . . and, everywhere in the countryside these days, signs of abandonment and depopulation. The photographs in this book are elegiac, and many of the texts—written by some of the region’s and the nation’s most respected writers—reflect upon an issue best expressed by Frost: “what to make of a diminished thing.”

Historian Joseph Amato has argued that the Minnesota countryside is presently undergoing a reconfiguration as profound as the original land-taking a century ago. At such a juncture self-assessment is especially helpful. Who are we? Where have we come from? What is our history? What are our roots? What crises have we weathered? What resources remain? In Southwest Minnesota: the Land & the People a group of historians, visitors, immigrants and natives reflect upon the human and natural landscape of the area that Frederick Manfred called “Siouxland” in brief selections reprinted from existing works or written specially for this volume.

Editor Joseph Amato is Dean of Rural and Regional Studies at Southwest Minnesota State University. He is the author of many book, some localized in this area: When Father and Son Conspire, The Great Jerusalem Artichoke Circus, Countryside: A Mirror of Ourselves, and most recently A Community of Strangers. Amato has written on popular subjects such as golf, by-pass surgery, and dust; on philosophical subjects like Guilt and Gratitude and Victims and Values; and on scholarly topics like the French philosophers Mounier and Maritain.

David Pichaske is Professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. He is the author of many books, several related to rural literature and themes: The Jubilee Diary and Late Harvest: Recent Rural American Writing. He has published on popular subjects like rock music and American culture (A Generation in Motion; The Poetry of Rock) and on scholarly subjects like Edmund Spenser and Geoffrey Chaucer. A three-time Fulbright Lecturer to Central Europe, Pichaske is the author of Poland in Transition: 1989-1991. As editor of Spoon River Poetry Press, Pichaske has published Leo Dangel, Bill Holm, Norbert Blei, Linda Hasselstrom, Bill Kloefkorn, and Dave Etter, among significant rural writers.

116 pages
$15.00 paper
ISBN 0-944024-38-6

        Winter Song   In a long poem written in Riga, Latvia, and first published in Whirligig (2000), Pichaske tracks his life and all things of this world as they wash inexorably downstream, downstream, downstream to the great annihilating sea.  Interspersed among the pages of poetry are 40 full-color photos of Latvia, 1997-98.