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The tenth edition of One Book | One Minnesota is underway. In honor of National Poetry Month, the program is featuring "Follow the Blackbirds" by Minnesota Poet Laureate Glen Nell Westermann. The link to her work is now available statewide via Ebooks Minnesota.

The cover of Follow the Blackbirds, a photo of Gwen Nell Westermann, and the One Book | One Minnesota wordmark.

The tenth One Book | One Minnesota title is Follow the Blackbirds by Minnesota poet laureate Gwen Nell Westerman, in honor of National Poetry Month. The book is now available statewide via Ebooks Minnesota until May 28. The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, who manage the program, have prepared a variety of ready-to-use promotional items to help libraries promote the program. Those materials are available via a previously published article on Minitex News.

Start reading today and share the Ebooks Minnesota link to "Follow the Blackbirds" with your patrons.


In language as perceptive as it is poignant, Westerman builds a world in words that reflects the past, present, and future of the Dakota people. An intricate balance between the singularity of personal experience and the unity of collective longing, Follow the Blackbirds speaks to the affection and appreciation a contemporary poet feels for her family, community, and environment. With touches of humor and the occasional sharp cultural criticism, the voice that emerges from these poems is that of a Dakota woman rooted in her world and her words. In this moving collection, Westerman reflects on history and family from a unique perspective, one that connects the painful past and the hard-fought future of her Dakota homeland. Grounded in vivid story and memory, Westerman draws on both English and the Dakota language to celebrate the long journey along sunflower-lined highways of the tallgrass prairies of the Great Plains that returns her to a place filled with “more than history.” An intense homage to the power of place, this book tells a masterful story of cultural survival and the power of language. 


Gwen Nell Westerman’s roots are deep in the landscape of the tall grass prairie and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. Since 2005, she has been creating quilts that have won awards at the juried shows of the Northern Plains Indian Art Market in Sioux Falls, the Eiteljorg Indian Art Market in Indianapolis, and the Heard Museum Guild Indian Art Fair and Market in Phoenix. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate. Westerman is the co-author of Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota which won a 2013 Minnesota Book Award and the 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award. She also has a collection of poetry in Dakota and English, Follow the Blackbirds. Westerman holds her BA and MA in English from Oklahoma State University, and PhD in English from the University of Kansas. She teaches American and Native Nations literatures, Technical Communication, and Humanities to undergraduate and graduate students at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She received the Douglas R. Moore Faculty Research Award for her work on Dakota history and language and is a Distinguished Faculty Scholar in recognition of her work as a scholar, poet, and artist.  


One Book | One Minnesota is presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, operating as the Minnesota Center for the Book, in partnership with State Library Services, and sponsored by SPIRE Credit Union. Program partners also include the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPLSA), Mackin, Minitex, the Minnesota Department of Education, and University of Michigan Press. This program is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Links to resources and more information can be found at

Written by

Zach Miller
Head of Communications
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