AUTHOR'S NOTE

As a writer, I sometimes discover moments and details so powerful they deserve their own space. Writing poems lets me shine lamplight on compelling stories that might get lost in a novel. Here you'll find more information about my first collection of poetry (my 40th published book), and links to read several of my poems. I hope you enjoy!

Poetry

 

Balancing: Poems of the Female Immigrant Experience in the Upper Midwest, 1830-1930

The poems in Balancing were inspired by the experience of women who, in the 19th and 20th centuries, sought new homes in the Upper Midwest. The first waves of pioneers, predominantly Yankees from Northeastern states, were soon followed by European immigrants. Few women recorded their struggles and satisfactions, but by juxtaposing research and imagination, Ernst breathes new life into their forgotten stories. To read one of the book's poems, click HERE.

"With a painterly eye, Kathleen writes with empathy, compassion and profound understanding for their lives; these women who were forced to balance from stump to stump/from Old World to New, from dreaming bride to resolute wife/one foot rooted solid, the other suspended in air. ...The lucky reader who takes the time to be with these poems can't help but be riveted and spiritually enlarged by Kathleen's work."

         ~Andrea Potos, Author of Marrow of Summer and Mothershell

"The word choices in these poems are breathtaking and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this collection for anyone . . . even if you’re not a poetry fan or a history buff. ...This is a book I loved getting lost in. I’ll be re-reading it, savoring each poem as I ponder our country’s history and how women shaped it."

~Christine DeSmet, author/book coach/Distinguished Faculty Associate at University of Wisconsin-Madison

"I found it a fascinating read."

~Larry Meiller, Host of The Larry Meiller Show on Wisconsin Public Radio

This collection of eighteen poems is Kathleen's fortieth published book. It is available for online ordering in trade paperback and ebook formats from independent bookstores or Bookshop.com and the following.

  TRADE PAPERBACK SOURCES     EBOOK SOURCES
  Amazon Amazon
  Barnes & Noble Apple Books
  Books-A-Million (BAM!)                   Barnes & Noble
  Little Creek Press (Publisher) Indigo Canada
      Target Rakuten Kobo

 

Front book cover of the Balancing poetry collection by bestselling author Kathleen Ernst.

 

 

Lost, 1867

The 19th-century immigrant experience often inspires my work. Here, I wanted to reflect how life has both changed and stayed the same. While the loss of a bonnet may feel irrelevant today, the loss of a child evokes timeless emotions. This poem was chosen for the 2013 MARK MY WORDS AGAIN exhibition at the Pump House Regional Arts Center in La Crosse, WI where it was paired with a photo by artist Jerry Weigel.

To read the poem, click HERE.

From Balancing: Poems of the Female Immigrant Experience in the Upper Midwest, 1830-1930, a collection of eighteen poems published by Little Creek Press. © 2021 Kathleen Ernst, LLC.

Photo of writer Kathleen Ernst at the 2013 Mark My Words Again exhibition..
 

 
Ascension

In 2012, the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, WI, sponsored a writing competition which focused on the healing power of the natural world and God's presence in all creation. Ascension was the Grand Prize winner. My talented friend Eileen Daily painted the Orca.

To read the poem, click HERE.
 

 
Handwork

Since so many 19th-century women left no written records behind, I've long been fascinated by the remnants of their lives that do remain. After writing this poem I chose to create a video version; it can be viewed by clicking on the image to the right.

To read the poem, click HERE.

To watch a video of the poem, click on the Handwork photo.
 

 

Facing Forward

I was honored to have this poem chosen for the MARK MY WORDS exhibition at the Pump House Regional Arts Center in La Crosse, WI. Artist Monica Jagel responded by creating a gorgeous piece of art that continues the story told in my poem.

To read the poem, click HERE.

From Balancing: Poems of the Female Immigrant Experience in the Upper Midwest, 1830-1930, a collection of eighteen poems published by Little Creek Press. © 2021 Kathleen Ernst, LLC.

Kathleen Ernst at Mark My Words 2011 Poetry and Art Exhibition.
 

 
Inarticulate, 1908

This poem was inspired by a visit to Cumberland Gap National Park in Kentucky. It was originally published in the Fall 2006 issue of Appalachian Heritage.

To read the poem, click HERE.
Black and white photo of a cabin taken by author Kathleen Ernst.