Diane Glancy

recorded in Kansas City, MO/KS

 

Diane Glancy

My name is Diane Glancy. I live in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.


The Knox Writers’ House

How did you get here?


Glancy

I got here because my daughter found a house for for me to live in. I lived in Minnesota for 20 years. I taught at Macalaster College, and then it came time for me to retire, and my daughter had three children right in a row and she thought it would be a very good idea if I moved to Kansas to help her with her three children, right in a row. So, I did. I’d been traveling anyway, almost every weekend. My last year at Macalaster, I had three seminars Monday through Wednesday nights. I would get up on Thursday morning, drive seven hours down to Kansas City, help my daughter with her children Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Monday morning, I would get up, drive seven hours back to the Twin Cities in time for my seven to ten o’clock seminar on Monday night. I would do that over and over again. First of all, I love to travel, and secondly, I wanted to be a part of my daughter’s and her children’s lives. It was very important to me. I’ve done a lot of writing about being a grandmother and the importance of it. I have a new collection of essays coming out from Nebraska this year The Dream of a Broken Field. My life has always felt broken between many fragments—races, of course, my father and mother, then, being always traveling. I have a line called “My sense of place is in the moving,” always being spread out and moving and fragmented, so the dream of a broken field is to bear crops. So, I got to Shawnee Mission because my daughter wanted me to help her with three young children, and I did.


KWH

Do you think there’s a certain voice or aesthetic that belongs to this region?


Glancy

Very much. It’s the land, it’s the sky, it’s the wheat fields, it’s the tall prairie grasses mashed down by a storm, it’s a love of the land, it’s the land as voice, the land as memory. The importance of middle ground, the importance of voice, of people, of presence, of awareness.


KWH

Does that exist or exist less in other parts of the country?


Glancy

I’ve not really lived in other parts of the country. It seems to be pretty important here in the middle. I don’t know that I ever felt really at home in Minnesota in the 20 years I lived there because of the brutal winters. The ground, often, is white from late October through April. Some of the biggest storms come in April and May. I said once, “I just want to see some green grass. I want to see the ground.” I think that’s what I said. Well, this is the ground. Just because it’s got five feet of snow on it doesn’t mean that’s not the ground. But there was always a coming back to this part of the country, to the prairie, to the openness of the land, where I feel the past so often, maybe even more than the present.


KWH

How do you think the landscape, that openness, affects your language? Affects your style?


Glancy

I love the rhythm of language of driving on the highways, those little stripes that go down the road, and when I was writing Stone Heart about Sacajawea, I wanted that same rhythm, the rowing. I think there’s a simplicity of language. I think there’s that heartbeat language that we’ve heard from the womb, that iambic beat. When I was in school, we had to memorize poems—“Whose woods these are, I think I know./ His house is in the village though;”—and though we don’t write or memorize like that anymore, there is a rhythm in language and in speech, you can almost talk in iambic pentameter without trying because it is so fundamental, and I think the plainness of the land, the energy of the sky, the inner action, that alignment, there is an interior landscape that a lot of that is. The flash of lightning, the thunder, the plainness of passing land, that basic rhythm, heartbeat rhythm, very much influences language and things that I think about—life and death and whatever. The past.

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