Writers Reading around a Table

Winter Writing Marathon Draws 23 from across the State

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On a chilly January afternoon, twenty-three writers met at the Sheldon Art Museum at the University of Nebraska Lincoln to continue a now annual tradition–the Winter Writing Marathon sponsored by the Nebraska Writing Project.

Participants sitting at Sheldon Museum of Art
Participants sitting at Sheldon Museum of Art

Led by Co-Director Susan Martens-Baker, participants traveled from as far as Ogallala to take part in this magical writing experience. Despite the early shuffling of meeting spaces at the Sheldon due to construction noise, fire hazards and “no backpack!” rules, everyone made it through the traditional introductions and eventually broke into small groups to travel all over downtown Lincoln, writing at various locations.

After the groups set out, they spent three hours writing and sharing at bars, coffee shops, art galleries, museums and other interesting hot spots. At 4 p.m., the groups agreed to meet back at Misty’s Steakhouse for a final read around and a wonderful dinner.

Writings from the Marathon

Several photograph pages were on the table and as I headed out today I swept them up, folded them in half, and slid them down the inside of my canvas bag. I have them with me now. One snapshot shows a pair of girls at a pump, probably at Harrison Lake, no water running but recent pump activity splashed water to spread across the cement block and make its surface shine. The girls are teenagers I think, the black & white photograph taken around 1950. To the left Aunt Sal holds a playfully matter-of-fact pose with her left arm fully extended like that of a clock indicating one-thirty, her wrist tilted just enough to tip a catsup bottle as if about to soak my mother’s hair. On the right my mother leans coyly against the entire length of the pump handle, right arm supporting her weight at the pump’s shoulder, left arm draped demurely toward the handle’s end. When I showed the photograph to her, my mother said “Oh, that famous picture.” Her jeans are over bare ankles and shoes, cropped white tee-shirt above her belt. Sal’s white tee is cinched around her waist, sleeves rolled, pant cuffs rolled to expose white socks and saddle shoes, and Sal’s head tips so far to her right that were it a pitcher it too would be about to pour. Sal’s right hand is planted upon her hip, her elbow jutting out as if to point down the dirt road that fades to the left edge of the photograph. 

Kate Brooke
January 23, 2010
Winter Writng Marathon


The bones don’t carry the load
and my curves are wider than they used to be.
The hairpins are now straight-aways,
the pert mountains have eroded to drifting 
foothills – or what could be foothills if
gravity proves as constant as Newton claimed.
Such is the topography of middle age. I can’t
decide if my body’s failing me or coming into
its own, like the Roman Coliseum or the
Greek Parthenon. Sometimes, it seems
my mind leans like that Tower Pisa –
an architectural wonder, true, but
not where you’d want to set up shop.
I don’t know why I am so surprised
to learn I could not stave the evidence
of time, that my doctor would say, “mammogram”
and mean it every year, that my old bones
wouldn’t bear the weight of my young ideas. 
But I am. I look for time the way
I look for my car keys – late –
with someplace to go, wondering
what else I’ve lost, forgotten.

Erica F. Rogers
Coffee House
Lincoln, Nebraska
Jan. 23, 2010


The artists are bustling,
                        moving canvases, 
and moving work from one place 
                                          to another. 
The current electric – a fibrous interweave of creative 
                  and manufactured 
energy – souls burning in selected hues beneath 
            the halogen truth of pendant lights flanking 
a steel submarine anchored to the ceiling. 
The chipboard  floor varnished, the bass line of indie music 
The whistle and the whine 
      of (de)construction arcs within my ear. 
It’s a Saturday.
It’s a miracle.

Erica F. Rogers
      Tugboat Gallery
      Lincoln, Nebraska
      Jan. 23, 2010 


Ivory, beige, taupe, wheat, shell – so much
Sensibility in this textile interpretative Plains dance. 
I wish there was some amber, perhaps
the brilliant blue of April sky, maybe 
the swaying red of seductive summer sunsets.
Is this a Cornflake museum in sensible shoes, 
an architectural ode to utility?
This is not the Nebraska I know. 
It’s not the palette of my colorful life ripe
with artists, poets, writers, and musicians. 
My wagon ruts lead to smoky jazz
underground poetry potlucks 
and the burnt umber of my poor choices –
But the mural of my great plains, 
the tapestry life led to settle,
isn’t hung in this burlap place.

Erica F. Rogers
Great Plains Museum
Lincoln, Nebraska
January 23, 2010

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