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Dave Etter (1928 – 2015)

Dave Etter – author photo from Electric Avenue (Spoon River Poetry Press, 1988)
Dave Etter – author photo from Electric Avenue (Spoon River Poetry Press, 1988)

Dave Etter, one of the great and original poets of the midwest, died Friday, July 10th. His funeral will be held in Lanark, Illinois, on Wednesday, July 22 at 2:00 pm, reception to follow.

I met Etter for the first time October 13, 1995 in Marshall. Following his reading, he signed a copy of Alliance, Illinois — adding “on a fine afternoon in Minnesota.” Later, that same fine day, I’d get a glimpse of Etter seated next to Bill Holm at the Silver Dollar bar, an iconic memory.

A second meeting came years later. In September, 2012, I drove to Lanark to deliver copies of Etter’s Blue Rain. What a memorable visit that was — meeting Peggy, scratching Georgie the cat under the chin, listening to Etter talk and tell stories.

Publishing Dave Etter will remain one of the great privileges of my life. A lasting regret will be not following through on plans for another visit to record Etter reading a selection of his poems. I don’t shed too many tears, but a few fell this morning as I paged through a few of my favorite books and read some favorite poems. This poet was one of a kind, and will be missed.


The warm sun shines
on the courthouse steps,
on the water tank,
on the Dream Cafe,
on the fire station,
on the grocery store,
on the railroad tracks,
on the senior center,
on the high school.

For eleven days
the sun didn’t shine
and the town went gloomy.
But it shines today,
and oh so brightly,
on the thick red beard
of the sickbed barber
who has not been outside
for fourteen weeks.
So see him now,
with a green John Deere cap
on his bald head,
puffing his new pipe
in his wheelchair,
in his pajama pants,
in his orange sweatshirt,
in his unlaced shoes,
in the red-bearded sun.

The warm sun shines
on the Brethren church,
on the gas station,
on the post office,
on the Prairie State Bank,
on the library,
on the barbershop,
on the antique store,
on the graveyard.

– Dave Etter, from Blue Rain (Red Dragonfly Press, 2012)

Print Shop

Summer Celebration of the Arts

Saturday, July 11, the Anderson Center in Red Wing will host its 16th annual “Summer Celebration of the Arts” from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. This is one of the premier arts festivals in the state and showcases the work of more than 100 local and regional artists, craftspeople, writers, and musicians. Work featured includes paintings, pottery, furniture, weavings, jewelry, wood carvings, photographs, textiles, stained glass, and much, much more.

As part of this celebration, Red Dragonfly Press will be hosting poetry readings by three, prize-winning poets.

  • 2:00 pm Joseph Rios will read. Rios is a current Anderson Center resident 2015 John K. Walsh Residency Fellowship
  • 2:30 pm Francine Sterle will read from What Thread? (2014 David Martinson–Meadowhawk Prize)
  • 3:00 pm Justin Watkins will read from Bottom-Right Corner (2014 Emergence Chapbook Prize)

Admission to the Anderson Center celebration is $3.00 for adults, $1.00 for students, free to Anderson Center members.