Poetry performance featured Iowan generations

St. Francis Manor and Seeland Park hosted a book signing and presentation for Greg Seeley’s new book of poems, “The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems” on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. The event was especially noteworthy as Seeley’s mother, Virginia, is a current resident of St. Francis Manor and Seeland Park, the local retirement community.

Greg Seeley shares his poetry at St. Francis Manor. Photo contributed.

Greg Seeley shares his poetry at St. Francis Manor. Photo contributed.

“The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems,” published by Author House, is centered on the history of an Iowa farm, spanning three generations and 125 years. The narrative thread begins with a soldier returning home from the Civil War to claim his newly purchased farmland. Through the ensuing years, the book details the family and their neighbors’ struggles that come with brutal winters, poor harvest seasons, both World Wars, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. It is a story of how these characters persevere and ultimately succeed in the face of unimaginable adversity. The book concludes in the early 1990s when the farm changes hands.

As Seeley intends for his book to be read by those who are not necessarily connoisseurs of poetry, the book also includes photographs of actual places and people during the time period to further develop a sense of setting for the reader. Additionally, passages are written in a slow narrative voice in order to mimic the deliberate rhythm of farming in an era before modern technologies.

Considering Grinnell’s recent hosting of Mary Swander’s play “Map of My Kingdom,” a presentation on the complexities of land transfer, the topics presented in Seeley’s book are especially resonant. The predominance of agriculture in the state of Iowa as well as Grinnell’s history as an agricultural community make discussions of land ownership as presented in “The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems” especially relevant.

“The Horse Lawyer and Other Poems” is available for purchase at the Pioneer Bookstore at 823 Fourth Ave. in Grinnell.

In the press release published by St. Francis and Seeland Park for the event, Seeley said he hopes his book will “inspire readers to learn more about the dreams and aspirations of their parents and grandparents.”