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One Book South Dakota

A program of the South Dakota Center for the Book


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2014 Selection


In a joint effort with the North Dakota Humanities Council and the 125th Anniversary Committees from the states of North and South Dakota, the South Dakota Humanities Council commemorates the entry of South and North Dakota into statehood with a special One Book collaboration.

“Dakota: A Spiritual Geography” by Kathleen Norris serves as the One Book for both states in 2014. The humanities councils in North and South Dakota are engaging residents in literary programming based on Norris’ New York Times bestselling book, in which she paints “a fine portrait of the High Plains and its people as well as a very personal memoir of a spiritual awakening,” according to Publishers Weekly. Norris has spent significant time in both states and maintains a residence in Lemmon, S.D.

“The South Dakota Humanities Council is very pleased to be able to work with our neighboring state on this very special and unprecedented One Book collaboration,” said Sherry DeBoer, executive director for the South Dakota Humanities Council. “We are excited to commemorate both states’ heritage with the brilliant work of a tremendous author.”

Norris is an award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Cloister Walk,” “Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith,” “The Virgin of Bennington” and the 2014 One Book, “Dakota: A Spiritual Geography.”

“Dakota” was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was selected as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal.

The San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle calls Norris “one of the most eloquent yet earthbound spiritual writers of our time."

The South Dakota Humanities Council worked with a publisher to print 3,000 copies of a joint special edition used for both a circulating library and for distributing free copies throughout the state. Statehood logos and the joint selection as the North and South Dakota One Book appear on the front book cover.

South Dakota Humanities Council uses its One Book Program to engage audiences from the smallest towns, biggest cities and reservations in the state. This project presents a unique opportunity to commemorate a milestone, and honor the great state of South Dakota through cultural and literary programming.

Norris conducted a six-city tour in South Dakota, making stops in geographically diverse locations, including an appearance at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books Sept. 26-28 in Sioux Falls.

In addition to the book, a study guide was produced with a special section on the current relevance of early statehood issues.

About the Author

Kathleen Norris is the award-winning poet, writer, and author of The New York Times bestsellers "The Cloister Walk," "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography"," Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith", and "The Virgin of Bennington." Exploring the spiritual life, her work is at once intimate and historical, rich in poetry and meditations, brimming with exasperation and reverence, deeply grounded in both nature and spirit, sometimes funny, and often provocative.
Norris has published seven books of poetry. Her first book of poems was entitled "Falling Off" and was the 1971 winner of the Big Table Younger Poets Award. Soon after, she settled down in her grandparents’ home in Lemmon, South Dakota, where she lived with her husband, the poet David Dwyer, for over 25 years. The move was the inspiration for the first of her nonfiction books, the award-winning bestseller "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography". It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was selected as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal. With "Dakota," she creates in the reader an almost hypnotic awareness of being present in her day-to-day life.
In Lemmon, Norris joined the Presbyterian Church, where her grandmother had been a member for 60 years. When the church was between full-time pastors, members called on her to fill-in, commenting, “You’re a writer, you can preach.”

In 1986 she became an oblate, or associate, of a Benedictine monastery, Assumption Abbey in North Dakota. Subsequently, she spent two years in residence at the Ecumenical (now Collegeville) Institute at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.






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