Hadara Bar-Nadav

recorded in Kansas City, MO/KS


Hadara Bar-Nadav

This is Hadara Bar-Nadav, and I live in Kansas City, Missouri. What led me to Kansas City, I got a teaching job at the University of Missouri–Kansas City teaching poetry, and literature classes as well. I was born in New York, raised in New Jersey, did some graduate work at Montclair State University in New Jersey, took a break, came back, did a PhD at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, which made me extremely popular with friends and family, none of whom ever came to visit me—I had to go to New York if I was going to see anyone—and from there I got a teaching job at St. John’s University in Minnesota, and then landed up in Kansas City. The writing community in Kansas City is actually very rich and broad. There is a local community here that’s very grassroots, very active, very cool, I think largely centered around The Writers Place. And they have all kinds of workshops they do, and readings, and also when national authors come through, or international authors, they’re read at The Writers Place, which is this beautiful mansion that was donated for use as a writer’s house, not only for poetry, but for fiction, nonfiction, the whole gamut.

The Knox Writers’ House

Do you think there’s  Midwestern voice or aesthetic in writing?


I’ve written about this before. So, yes and no. Yes, because I think when people talk about a Midwestern voice, they’re thinking of Ted Kooser. Somebody who writes about grandmas, applesauce, and potatoes and soy fields in a way that there’s room for that in the world, in a way that’s comforting and kind of fits these preconceived stereotypes of how people think of the heartland, whatever the heartland is. You know, the farmer in the broken-down overalls, the little girl watching a Memorial Day parade that only consists of six people. These visions of Middle America. And then no, because the Midwest also is filled with refugees. Lincoln, Nebraska, where I lived for five years, was a kind of refugee dumping ground. There were people with amazing stories, a whole Sudanese community, people from all over the world who, I guess they’re thrown into America without any training—there’s no job training, no help with language, they’re just sort of thrown into Lincoln, Nebraska. And because of that, the Midwest is not a single thing. Plus, we are a nation of immigrants, and that diversity brings in all kinds of people with all kinds of experiences, backgrounds, voices. My voice, for instance, you’ll find out tomorrow, is probably nothing like Michelle Boisseau’s, who’s my colleague, is nothing like Bob Stewart, who was a plumber and has a book of poems out called Plumbers. I’ve never written a poem about plumbing in my life, I know nothing about it. I’m glad my toilet works, that’s about as far as I’ve ever thought about it. So three different people who all live in Kansas City, Missouri all teach in the same place, but are very diverse.


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