Volume IV, Issue 2

This issue was the first to transition from our old site to this new static platform, but that transition is not yet complete. As this transition continues its content is available at https://rootstalk-archive.grinnell.edu/issue/7, our legacy website, as a collection of downloadable PDF documents.


Birds of the Prairie

In this issue we focus on the Wood Duck, the Baltimore Oriole, the Common Loon, and the Hooded Merganser. Read more →



by Tracy Harris

What’s an East Coast transplant to do when she doesn’t feel she fits in the Midwest? Fill a car with friends and head for Davenport, Iowa. Read more →


The Heart of the Oblates’ North

by Jennifer Mueller

Our first contributor from Canada tells how a piece of prairie history was preserved in northern Alberta. Read more →


Making Room

by Taylor Greene

A room isn’t just space in a house; it’s a state of mind, as this poem reminds us. Read more →


Roots Talk! Podcast Episode 3

by Noah Herbin

In the first of two podcasts in this issue, plant scientist Lee DeHaan discusses the new perennial grain, Kernza. Read more →


Think of night as controlled prairie fire, and it becomes an imperative

by Clare Jones

Our issue’s third poet posits a commerce between ripening ferns and the stars. Read more →


His Ambassador

by Damian Johansson

Grief is this writer’s companion as he drives from Red Wing, Minnesota, to Minneapolis. Read more →


Travel by Starlight

by Stephanie L. Harper

Roadtrips aren’t just fodder for travelogues, as this poet shows us. They produce poems, too. Read more →


Ode to the Honey Bee

by Ethan Kenvarg

The poet confers a Spring blessing on one of the prairie’s humblest—and most necessary—residents. Read more →


Worthless Rocks

by John C. Whittaker

Editor's Note

Time For A Roadtrip

by Mark Baechtel

When the spring comes around, Midwesterners hit the road. Read more →


Finding the Lost Duck

by Colin Lewis-Beck

Where can you find the essential Iowa? Not in a single place, as this writer found, on the road with his father and a van full of friends. Read more →



by Stephanie Snow

The word “gnosis” denotes the study of spiritual mysteries, which this poet recognizes in the sky, in the land, in the eyes of love. Read more →


Kristine Heykants

This Twin-cities photographer looked south for the images in this Closeup, to the small Iowa town of Belmond. Read more →

Music review

Pieta Brown in Concert

by Kelly Hansen Maher

Our reviewer covers a Spring concert by Iowa folk music royalty Pieta Brown. Read more →


From My Table to Yours

by Ann P. Hall

A small-town restaurant is where the local foods movement gets real. Read more →


Roots Talk! Podcast Episode 4

by Noah Herbin & Eva Gemrich

Audio producers Noah Herbin and Eva Gemrich interview University of Iowa Prof David Osterberg about CAFOs. Read more →


Two Poems

by Bill Graeser

This poet turns to a pair of Iowa icons–a Grant Wood painting and the quadaennial caucuses–to evoke the quiet behind the image. Read more →


Keith Kozloff

Keith Kozloff discovered a trove of his old black-and-white negatives from the 1970s in an old shoe box. Take a look at this selection. Read more →


Roots of Stone

by Michele M. Brennhofer

When this Minnesota writer’s family farm became a regional park, she kept her family memories. Read more →


This Old House

by Sam Pérez

When you move into an old house in a small town, you inherit that house’s history and, sometimes, its former residents. Read more →

Local History

The Peace Rock

by Byron Hueftle-Worley

How could a hunk of rock buried on a college campus have so much history attached to it? This woodworker/amateur historian tells us. Read more →

Local History

Growing Up in Kansas

by Donald Janzen

Anthropologist Don Janzen examines his own background in his essay about his father’s homesteading childhood in early 20th century Kansas. Read more →


Peaches, Meet Corn

by Mariah Manoylov

In this essay, a Georgia-based writer shares her introduction to the prairie’s wild beauty. Read more →


Open Door

by Fabrice Poussin

A Georgia poet celebrates the spirits of Spring. Read more →

Publisher's note

Sight, Sound and … Smell?

by Jon Andelson

As a multimedia journal, Rootstalk offers words, pictures, video and sound. Does the future hold smell as well? Read more →