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About "The Cities of the Plains" Anthology

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The Cities of the Plains: An Anthology of Iowa Artists and Poets

Editor Paul Brooke has assembled an impressive array of 57 artists and poets, showcasing the diverse talent in the state.


It features Akwi Nji, A’Ja Lyons, Alexandra Ackerman, Amenda Tate, Ange Altenhofen, Anna Stoysich, Barbara Elder, Bob Lockhart,  Brittany Brooke Crow, Caleb Rainey, Catherine Reinhart, Charlie R. North, Cyril Mandelbaum, Dawn Terpstra, Elizabeth Rhoads Read, Ethan Edvenson, Geneva Toland, Igor Khalandovskiy, Indigo Moore, Ingrid Lilligren, Jan Friedman, Jen Rouse,  Joan Webster-Vore, Jocelyn Chãtcauvent, Julia Anna Morrow, Kelly Madigan, Kristin Roach, Kyle McCord, Larassa Kabel, Laura Travnicek, Louise Kames, Lydia Nong, Marilyn Baszczynski, Mario Duarte, Mary Jones, Matthew Kluber, Michaela Mullin, Mirzam Pérez, ML Hopson, Molly Wood, Nash Cox, Pat Underwood, Patricia Tiffany Morris, Paul Brooke, Rachel Morgan, Ray Young Bear, Seth Thill, Shelly Reed Thieman, Seso Marentes, Steve Rose, Tasha Jackson, Tibi Chelcea, Tom Riefe, Tracie Morris, Vi Khi Nao, Vince Gotera, and Yvette Sutton.

Paul Brooke on How "The Cities of the Plains" Came Alive

"I first conceptualized this anthology driving past my birthplace of Eldora, Iowa. This is where Mona Van Duyn, the Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, was raised as a child (she was born in Waterloo). There was a poem that she recorded called “The Cities of the Plains,” a poem strangely about Lot’s wife. A line came to mind: “fabulous bouquets of persons” and I imagined—suddenly—an anthology filled not only with our state’s best poets but also our best artists. I thought about elevating these talented persons, these fabulous bouquets. Thus the idea was born.


Six months later, I applied for an Iowa Arts Council grant through Iowa Economic Development Authority and was chosen to create this anthology. I set out to create the most diverse collection of artists and poets the state of Iowa has to offer.


This project seeks ways of bringing artists and poets together in shared spaces to present their creative work. It will celebrate that work and provide places for sharing it. Also, I believe deeply in interdisciplinary, which means that I want to make connections between artists and poets, effectively beginning collaborations across various disciplines. This will lead to more community building and inventive work.


I want to show the multilayered, diverse talent by carefully selecting a representative selection of poets/artists for both projects."

Join the celebration at Poetry Palooza!

Paul Brooke, along with several poets from the anthology, will celebrate the launch of "Cities of the Plains" at Poetry Palooza! on Saturday, April 20, 2024. The launch will take place from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. in the Speed Lyceum at Grand View University in Des Moines. 

We hope to see you there!

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