A new book of poems by Linda M. Hasselstrom has been published, dedicated to her late husband, Jerry Ellerman. The book contains over 60 poems describing the prairie and the ranch where Linda has lived for over 35 years. Some are poignant, some have a bit of humorous edge, some are instructional. She asked me if I would collaborate with her by providing a few photographs to accompany the poems, an assignment which I found challenging and interesting.
We met a few times at the lovely coffee shop in Hermosa, near her ranch, and on her ranch itself, where I documented the buildings and surrounding area. I combed through my extensive archive of landscapes, ephemera, and abandoned homesteads. I got to meet her latest pup, Hattie, a Westie terrier who is just a bundle of energy. Over the summers of 2021 and 2022, the book slowly took shape. I did the layout and the design, and handled the printing through a small-run printer in Illinois, Total Printing Systems. We printed the first 100 copies of the book in softcover format. It is 8.5″ x 8.5″, printed in color.
We had our good friend Ann Haber Stanton write the introduction to the book. She starts out by writing:
When you meet Linda Hasselstrom or James Parker in person or through their art, you will have found what’s best about South Dakota. There are stories everywhere in the prairies and hills. Linda’s writing, her books, essays, and poems explore the landscape and tell stories of her life in words. James’s photographs tell stories of the land, of forgotten places and lives, through light, shadow, and color.
The book has met with favorable reviews from friends and literary critics. John Tsitrian of the South Dakota Standard had some very nice words in a recent review. In part, he says:
They came up with a masterpiece. It is much more than words accompanied by pictures: It’s an artistic symbiosis. Hasselstrom’s words evoke pictures, Parker’s pictures inspire words.
Hasselstrom writes of the mundane chore of darning socks and shares vivid, loving memories of her grandmother.
Parker shows us a stretch of barbed wire fence against a backdrop of gently rolling hills, grassy, voluptuous and nurturing. Earth is a mother, and a sensuous one at that.
Both Linda and I are very pleased with the way the book has been received. If you’d like to own a copy for your own bookshelf, it is available on Amazon.com, or signed, directly from the authors. The price for the signed edition is $37, which includes postage and handling.