|The Crow on the Golden Arches
|These thirty-nine all-new poems represent Dangel’s work since Home from the Field, and will probably be the poet’s last book-length collection. They take Dangel in a more formalist direction – some are actually sonnets – reflecting the influence of poet Phil Dacey, Dangel’s colleague at Southwest Minnesota State University. Older influences like Nebraska’s Bill Kloefkorn and Illinois’ Dave Etter are also still visible, although in these poems, as in earlier work, Dangel has his own voice.
On the cover of The Crow on the Golden Arches is a painting done especially for this book by Wisconsin writer Norbert Blei, whose collections of concrete poems, Paint Me a Picture / Make Me a Poem was published by Spoon River Poetry Press in 1987. Blei also painted the cover illustration for Iveta Melnika’s memoir of growing up in Soviet Latvia, Tale of the White Crow, published by Ellis Press in 2003.
|Home from the Field
|Leo Dangel’s language is simple and homespun, his characters are recognizable and down home, his world is the perfect image of southwestern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. While Dangel’s poetry invites comparison with that of Dave Etter and William Kloefkorn, his work is unique in its wry understatement, vivid scenes, restrained feeling, fond tolerance for eccentricity, and vestigial prairie populism. Among his poetic characters, Old Man Brunner and Arlo loom especially large as archetypal curmudgeonous bachelor farmer and callow farm lad respectively.
Two decades of devotion to his craft have made South Dakota native Leo Dangel one of the premier spokesmen for contemporary rural Midwestern life, and won him a loyal following of readers who ordinarily avoid poetry.
“Dangel makes splendid poetry of all the familiar covenants of farm country.”—Linda Hasselstrom
“Without being trendy or tricky, the poems are alive with surprising twists and casual discoveries of the mysteries, fears and subdued yearnings of little people.”—Jim Heynen
“These poems are warm and generous and perfectly formed to the mouths of the people who speak them.”—Ted Kooser
“I mean high praise by saying that Leo Dangel’s poems disarm the ordinary American mistrust of poetry. Even a practical farmer could say, ‘If that’s poetry, I believe it, and take delight in it.’ So will you.”