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  • Photo of The Middlewesterner by Dave Bonta

(c) 2004-2008
Tom Montag


June 2008

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  • The endowments and the foundations won't, but you can help support my long-term exploration of the middle west, Vagabond In the Middle. Any donation to help defray expenses will be appreciated. Send to Tom Montag at: PO Box 8, Fairwater, WI 53931.


    "shelf life of prune juice" - The Middlewesterner

  • "elko + bar + bathroom + girlfriend" - Creek Running North
  • "what does a mole on the palm of the hand mean?" - Mole
  • "biro, slowly watching memory" - frizzyLogic
  • "pictures of someone who looks forgotten" - Blaugustine
  • "emily dickinson's address" - alembic
  • "heterosexual woman becomes lesbian in midlife" - Velveteen Rabbi
  • "if lost return to" - Slow Reads
  • "village voice newspaper headline when andy warhol died in 1987 village voice headline is god dead is god dead" - Marja-Leena
  • "I have no head" - Under a bell
  • "what can we do about privilege?" - Feathers of Hope
  • "stigmata montreal women" - Cassandra Pages
  • "Aztec sacrificial victims" - 3rd House Party
  • "ugliest woman ever" – Fishbucket
  • "prime number farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "sasquatch beauty barn" - Via Negativa
  • "I have what looks like small pieces of bird seed in human feces my feces." - Nuthatch
  • "signs your girlfriend is not happy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "real tribe potion to become Immune to fire" - susannagig-jig
  • "does god blink" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Sleeping ovaries" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "People find me offensive poem" - Find Me a Bluebird
  • "girlfriend taming" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked librarians from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs a girlfriend is about to walk out" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls at prayer" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'behind the barn' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "basho farting" - The Middlewesterner
  • "white conic body lotion" - Mole
  • "what specifically is the emerald mole?" - Mole
  • "how to impress a tomboy girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ripon cookies for bear bait" - The Middlewesterner
  • "people who think they are cats" - The Middlewesterner
  • "crows and fog omen" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are walking in the spirit what does heat mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be more socialable" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does making hay mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does it mean to call someone an iowa farm boy" - The Middlewesterner
  • "What does it mean when there are 2-3 crows in your yard and you don't have a corn field?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tomboy addiction" - The Middlewesterner
  • gunmetal tulle - findmeabluebird
  • mucho bonito senorita translation - findmeabluebird
  • "swollen rash" diagnosis - findmeabluebird
  • how to keep a kid occupied when sick and in bed - findmeabluebird
  • moose bums - findmeabluebird
  • uninterlaced - findmeabluebird
  • "red squirrels castrating grey squirrels" - The Middlewesterner
  • "short poems to impress a girl" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is an important food crop in middlewest?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "the reason the elements of the writing process are important to poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "wallpaper, poet" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how to be a vagabond" - The Middlewesterner
  • "my jock strap hearts how can i fix it" - The Middlewesterner
  • "How do Hutterite deliver babies " - The Middlewesterner
  • "shelling corn slang" - The Middlewesterner
  • "lady of guadalupe as vagina symbol" - The Middlewesterner
  • "will the leaves still be on the trees October 21, 2006 in Davenport, Iowa?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "driving time between seydisfjordur and skaftafell" - The Middlewesterner
  • "impress a girl from north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do tigers get born?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "jesus nude girls" - The Middlewesterner
  • "falling in love with a midwesterner" - The Middlewesterner
  • "shanties with cadillacs" - The Middlewesterner
  • "middle road sermon" - The Middlewesterner
  • "ephemeral as the summer fly" - Chatoyance
  • "how to paint ghost flames" - Chatoyance
  • "wine of cardui" - chatoyance
  • "kevlar bridal dresses" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to scold boyfriend" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how to find your true self" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "it goes around the sun 4 times a year" - Hoarded Ordinaries
  • "how long does it take for a sprinter to regain his speed after a grade 1 hamstring tear" - The Middlewesterner
  • "understanding why crows like you" - The Middlewesterner
  • "customs and culture of the middlewest region of the United States" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girl in a pile of money" - The Middlewesterner
  • "dakota tom sandwich" - The Middlewesterner
  • "things to do in Middlewest US" - The Middlewesterner
  • "nebraska christian music thunderstorm" - The Middlewesterner
  • "naked girls performing prayer photos" - The Middlewesterner
  • "metaphysical stores in Davenport Iowa" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'worthless as tits on a boar' mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what is silo liquid and why does it make the cats sick?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "names of the dinosaurs that live in water or pictures naked women" - The Middlewesterner
  • "alien + pigs + north + dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "poems for football players girlfriend" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does 'making hay' mean?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do cows eat cabbage in south dakota" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a skunk mean in a dream" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does the mole on the buddha mean" - The Middlewesterner
  • "hutterite bra" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when to planet vandalia onions" - The Middlewesterner
  • "The Republicans have been painting an unattractive portrait of Democrats roasting young children on a spit in the Capitol rotunda and what not" - The Middlewesterner
  • "kewpie doll karl rove" - The Middlewesterner
  • "Real photos of Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus and a story how Mary got her baby, Jesus removed out of her stomach" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fog barn stillness beauty poetry" - The Middlewesterner
  • "redneck outhouse poems" - The Middlewesterner
  • "haiku farting basho horse" - The Middlewesterner
  • "signs that i'm a heroin addict" - The Middlewesterner
  • "how do you know if your ankle is sprung" - The Middlewesterner
  • "translations from spanish to english giving opinions about the preservation of wild cats in South America" - The Middlewesterner
  • "stealth bomber information" - The Middlewesterner
  • "emily dickinson with cowboy hat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what causes bossy girlfriends" - The Middlewesterner
  • "owl hitting a windshield and meaning" - The Middlewesterner
  • "long arm handling gloves cat" - The Middlewesterner
  • "what does a rendering plant smell like?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "potion to become a superhero" - The Middlewesterner
  • "fried egg symbols of lesbianism" - The Middlewesterner
  • "when you are sixty years old should you move back to cold weather in michigan?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "learn poetry to impress a woman" - The Middlewesterner
  • "if you were asked to teach a character education program with which you found fault, what would you do?" - The Middlewesterner
  • "tractors porn" - The Middlewesterner
  • "does black or dark nail polish on a woman mean anything" - The Middlewesterner
  • "keeping warm in north dakota" - The Middlewesterner
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December 16, 2004



I would have loved to have been in that class! It's interesting about "seeing", how that is so important to writing as well as visual arts. I recall once being with a friend exploring a rocky sea shore with very unusual weathered rock formations, and how my excited observations made her say in the end: " I never before saw all those small details that you have marvelled over - you have opened my eyes in a different way." Congratulations, Tom.

Tom Montag

Marja-Leena--Thanks for your good words! Having you in the class would have been a wonder. One of the students was a double major - writing and art, and she is very good at both. She could already "see" when she came to the first class, perhaps because of her visual arts and poetry background. As with your time at the seashore with a friend, sometimes I think our mere (MERE?) excitement at our surroundings helps others learn to see. Your work draws from so many elements of the world that I have to believe you sleep with your eyes open.


Words are always difficult for me, to express what I see and understand visually, which is why your class might have been good for me.

"Your work draws from so many elements of the world that I have to believe you sleep with your eyes open." Oh, that is so beautiful, Tom, thank you!! Maybe that's why I'm an insomniac, hmm? :-)


Congratulations. The thing about yeast is, a very little bit of it can go a long way. Sometimes the slowest rising bread tastes the best and lasts the longest.

Tom Montag

And is the chewiest. Yeah, Dave, too much yeast creates a lot of air-holes, and that's counter productive when you're talking about writing. I like my writing chewy, like Gretel Ehrlich's is.

Tom Montag

Marja-Leena--And maybe I don't sleep well because life is short and I've got lots to do. I think I'm at the age where I spend a lot of the night wrestling with myself rather than with any archangel.


How many of us are insomniacs, I wonder? We should have a way to signal each other in the middle of the night, and have a chat - except it wouldn't be boring enough to put me back to sleep!

Tom Montag

Beth--I'm not sure any of us can stand to have more going on. Too much going on is why we're awake! If anything, we need a way to send each other a glass of warm milk.


Oh, Tom. I'm so happy the semester turned out well. I firmly believe that you were one of those life-changing professors, the sort that those students will think about, years down the line, and credit with encouraging them to look at the world in new ways. Congratulations on everything, and I'm sure there'll be a next time. It sounds as though you were born to teach this.

Tom Montag

Hi, Siona--the class was a terrific experience for me, and I think it was good for the students as well. Remember, early on you told me I'd have to be supportive. Well, I had to be supportive, and I was, right up to the end. I hope some of the kids took as much away from the class as I did.


The class was a wonderful experience. I've told this to Tom before, that at the start of the semester, many of us (students) were apprehensive about how the class would be run, but Tom took the reins and guided us in a way that encouraged us to become involved in seeing and writing.

Not only was I fortunate enough to have Tom's class this semester, but also interviewed him for the campus paper and assisted him at the Great Lakes Writers Festival. It gave me the opportunity to get to know him well. Before meeting Tom, I wrote fiction and poetry. In Tom's interview, he told me "Life's too short for fiction."

Judging by the pages of non-fiction I've created between the covers of 6in.x9in. notebooks, I'd say that I have agreed. Almost everywhere, I can see important stories to tell, and I thank Tom for that. Before meeting him, I was able to see, I just didn't know what I was looking at. Tom helped me shape that. My one regret is that he won't be around to teach next semester.

Talking with Tom after the semester ended, he made a joke about not having his Masters, and how he worried at the start of the semester about what would happen when people found out about it.

Tom was a better instructor than many professors I've had during my four years in college. Like Lakeland Poet-in-Residence Karl Elder said, Tom has the excitement and drive of a professor fresh out of graduate school and the wisdom of a professor who has been teaching for years.

Thanks Tom. See you around, here at the Middlewesterner and elsewhere, I'm sure.

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