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Bill Holm

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. (poets.org)

This poem sparked with me right away! I think it’s safe to say my “next life will be a lot like this one!” I’m just not a risk taker. Are you? This is my first introduction to Holm, but I think I’m going to like his work! (Doesn’t he look just like Santa Claus!!! 😀 )



Someone dancing inside us
learned only a few steps:
the “Do-Your-Work” in 4/4 time.
the “What-Do-You-Expect” waltz.
He hasn’t notice yet the woman
standing away from the lamp,
the one with dark eyes
who knows the rhumba
and strange steps in jumpy rhythms
from the mountains in Bulgaria.
If they dance together,
something unexpected will happen.
If they don’t, the next world
will be a lot like this one.


Bill Holm reading this poem…


Picture Source: Perfect Duluth Day