Alliance, Illinois

Writing with the sympathetic humor of Sherwood Anderson, the honest realism of Edgar Lee Masters, and the sensitive ear of William Carlos Williams, Etter records life in the American small town during the second half of the twentieth century. Beneath invitingly simple surfaces lie remarkable psychological insights and a careful, sturdy craftsmanship. A joy to the eye, the ear, and the heart, Etter’s Alliance, Illinois has become a monument of rural American literature, often taught and often anthologized.

Alliance, Illinois was selected as the first book of small press poetry to be promoted nationally in the Pushcart Foundations NEA-sponsored “Editors’ Choice” series.

“A remarkable and sweetly moving portrait of small town, mid-America—hands down the most impressive long work of poetry I’ve read in years.”—Raymond Carver

“Using simple language and colloquial speech, Etter creates lively scenes of psychological depth, based on believable characters and events.”—Publishers Weekly

“[Etter’s] long-spun masterwork. Its 222 poems attempt to record all the figments and fascinations of small-town American life during the second half of the 20th century. . . . What we have now is Etter’s fulfillment of his contract to record and make the art of native Midwestern speech, presence, and circumstance. . . . Etter deserves praise and attention.”—G.E. Murray, Chicago magazine

“Home truths from Alliance, Illinois and other home-towns.”—Booklist

240 pages
$14.95 cloth

Approximately 25 copies of the deluxe edition of Alliance, Illinois, signed by the poet in 1983 and containing 4 signed and numbered engravings by lithographer Robert DePauw, remain at $50 a copy.


Carnival Copies available for purchase  

Cornfields Copies available for purchase  

Electric Avenue Copies available for purchase  

      The Essential Dave Etter The Essential Dave Etter is the distillation of a career which began in 1966 with the publication of Go Read the River and ran through hundreds of published poems, two dozen books, numerous awards, and translations in German, Polish, and Japanese. The Essential Dave Etter contains the essence of an essential American poet, one who has influenced virtually every younger rural Midwestern poet. Priced for use as a textbook in workshops and writing classes, high school to college, this introduction to Etter’s work exhibits his range of voice, material, and technique.  

Home State Copies available for purchase  

      How High the Moon How High the Moon is an exciting departure from the rural dramatic monologues of Alliance, Illinois (1982) and Sunflower County (1994). Etter presents the reader with jazz poems, translating the tempos and techniques of jazz music into written (spoken) poetry. Music lovers will recognize allusions and borrowings in Etter’s titles and lines, and will hear the jazz origins of poems like “For Miles and Miles” and “All Morning Long.”

How High the Moon is Dave Etter’s 24th collection of poetry. The poems reveal a special ear for the English language and eye for the minutest detail of everyday life. Readers will also find that Etter becomes increasingly frank sexually. Especially refreshing is his candor regarding office relationships and inter-racial affairs.

98 pages
$9.95 paper


Live at the Silver Dollar Copies available for purchase  

      Looking for Sheena Easton

Looking for Sheena Easton cover

In his newest collection, this prolific Illinois poet explores new possibilities in structure and form, and reminds us again of his art’s ties to the techniques of jazz and popular culture. The old Etter ear for spoken idiom is everywhere evident, as are the poet’s ties to his Midwest place.
ISBN 0-944024-48-3
56 pages
$10 paperback

Midlanders Copies available for purchase  

      Selected Poems This 1987 collection gathers nearly three decades of carefully crafted poems, including generous selections from the long out-of-print early collections Go Read the River and Last Train to Prophetstown. With Alliance, Illinois (no poems from Alliance are reprinted here), Selected Poems constitutes the life’s work to date of a poet increasingly recognized as the voice of Mid-America, a poet translated into Polish, German and Czech; a poet published in hundreds of magazines and over seventy textbooks and anthologies.

“Dave Etter . . . is one of the best poets in America. His poems are at once gentle and incisive; they contain universal truths.”—E.V. Griffith, Poetry Now

“Dave Etter again displays the marvelous sensitivity and receptiveness to the finest details and nuances of small Midwestern towns and lives of individuals who inhabit them that we have come to expect from this work. . . . There is nobody quite like him.”
—Ralph J. Mills, Jr.

“Etter’s work is a joy to read, because he is, above all else, honest with himself and his attitude toward the world.”—Library Journal

“His work contains a profitable commerce, a marriage if you will, between the world of the Middle West and the world of art. He brings to one the complex perceptions and techniques of the artist, and to the other the simple, worthwhile values of rural America.”—Victor Contoski, Late Harvest: Plains and Prairie Poets

“Perhaps Etter finds readers because he has made an alliance with his own place and times. Perhaps we read him because we believe that ordinary lives of people like ourselves do matter.”—Illinois Times

240 pages
$14.95 cloth


      Sunflower County Published late in 1994, the poet’s 66th year, Sunflower County is a megawork, the definitive portrait of Etter’s Midwest. More than twice the length of Alliance, Illinois, this book encompasses (and in some cases revises) poems of that collection and all previous Etter books. It contains substantial new material and presents a vision subtly different from previous Etter books: less nostalgic, more sexually frank. Poetically, Etter presses even further into the jazz idiom, which has become one of his trademarks.

“The marvels and monotonies of the archetypal Midwestern small town of Alliance, Illinois appear here in Etter’s collection of 400-odd verse monologues spoken by town characters. . . . Like Masters, Etter uncovers the private moments, lackluster routines, and the enervating, futile mood of small-town existence. His monologues are most powerful when they evoke the past or forces of nature, when they mourn lost buildings and lost artifacts—e.g., buffalo nickels—or when they underline human vulnerability, as in a farm-wife’s monumental rage in ‘Foreclosure.’ Etter’s best poems are insightful regional performances that invoke prairie life.”—Publishers Weekly

“These poems are old-fashioned in their sensibility and in their view of life, . . . informed by an intelligence that took on most of its intellection and cultural baggage at mid-century—and good, sturdy Samsonite it is, too. Many are humorous; there is the occasional country-western fatalism. . . . All-in-all, though, this is noteworthy of people who have only a little more money than is needed to get by on. These poems help give back something that it is easy for the prose reader to lose: the becoming one with, the sympathetic imagining of, the world that the work of art creates.”—Roger Miller, Milwaukee Journal

441 pages
$14.95 paper


West of Chicago Copies available for purchase