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Poetry at Work Day: The Farmer as Poet

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There was a time when newspapers routinely published poetry, but that was a century or so ago. Times changed, and poetry largely disappeared from the newspapers delivered to our doorsteps.

Song of Prairie CoverExcept, perhaps, in Champaign, Illinois.

The Champaign News-Gazette discovered a Central Illinois farmer who happened to write poetry. One thing led to another, and late last year, the newspaper published Song of the Prairie by Linden Warfel.

Warfel is a fourth-generation generation farmer, and he is a lot more than that, too: a husband (he and he wife Kay have been married almost 50 years), a father (five children), a grandfather (six grandchildren).

Like a lot of farmers, he’s about community, too, having served on the local school board for 10 years and as a trustee for the local community college for the last 20 years. He’s served his church as an elder, teacher, worship leader and youth teacher. For more than 40 years, he’s been active in the county Farm Bureau, and currently serves as its president.

Beyond the community, as a member of the Rotary Club, Warfel has led service projects in Haiti, Romania, Malawi, Kenya, India, and Tajikistan.

And he’s a poet.

His poetry is about what he knows – the land, the seasons, farming, faith, and family. Here’s an excerpt from his poem, “Evening on the Prairie,” and it will sound familiar:

Woven together
for just passing moments
the sky emblazoned
the sun slipping down
clouds framing, moving too
A breeze gently blowing
after a windy day
the temperature soothing
and quiet
save a male pheasant signaling

The quiet
is after a long full day
of machine roaring
harvesters and trucks and tractors
all pulling, straining, against their loads
People working
planning, thinking, doing so busily
Now, the keys turned off
the engines cooling
and quiet
all quiet…

Today is Poetry at Work Day, and we can think of no better representative than Lin Warfel, farmer-poet from central Illinois.

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