poem index

poet

Bill Holm

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Bill Holm was born in 1943 on a farm outside Minneota, Minnesota. He received a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1965 and an MA from the University of Kansas in 1967.

Holm was the author of several poetry collections, including Playing the Black Piano (Milkweed Editions, 2004), The Dead Get By with Everything (Milkweed Editions, 1991), and The Music of Failure (Plains Press, 1985). His collection The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions) was published posthumously in 2009. He also wrote several essay collections, including The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland (Milkweed Editions, 2007).

A professor emeritus at Southwest Minnesota State until his retirement in 2008, Holm was known for his connection to Minnesota. In an article for the Minn Post, Nick Hayes describes him as “the quintessential voice of our small towns and prairies.” He goes on to note that Holm “was also our lost Icelander in Minnesota.” The grandchild of Icelandic immigrants, Holm spent most of his summers at his cottage in Hofsos, Iceland, and his writing was influenced both by the heritage and landscape of both of his homes.

In 2008, Holm received the McKnight Distinguished Artist Award. He died on February 26, 2009, in South Dakota.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Selected Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2009)
Playing the Black Piano (Milkweed Editions, 2004)
The Dead Get By with Everything (Milkweed Editions, 1991)
The Music of Failure (Plains Press, 1985)

Prose
The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland (Milkweed Editions, 2007)

by this poet

poem
This music weeps, not for sin
but rather for the black fact
that we must all die, but not one
of us knows what comes after.
This music leaps from key to key
as if it had no clear place to arrive,
making up its life, one bar at a time. 
But when you come at last to the real theme,
strict, inexorable, and bleak,