Praise for Red Wing, stories by Rustin Larson

Red Wing

Red Wing! Some praise (and some refreshing honest criticism) about my new story collection:

Hi Rustin — I read your book, and thoroughly enjoyed. I did get lost in “Five Stories,” and a few other places where I think your love of the absurd may take you too far.

Where your more “traditional,” if still whimsical, self prevails, the stories are beautiful. I think you’ve made your mark as a writer of the Iowa landscape, particularly in winter, and small town life. These stories heavily affected by place are so memorable and poignant, plus often funny too.

Congratulations, my friend, on writing so well in what I assume is a new genre for you. I’ve never been able to write fiction,

though I’ve tried. My few tries sound nervous. (!)

Onward! and cheers, Suzanne



I’m enjoying the stories. I especially have liked “Pearl Harbor,” “The Incomplete History of The Village Of Orilla,” “Lola, and “Road Trip.”I love the sense of place throughout the collection. Can really feel the landscape. The evoking with sensual images is also strong, as well as the use of dialogue.I have a few stories left to read. Hope to get to them before the weekend.


Stay safe and healthy.


Review of Lost Letters and Windfalls by Nynke Passi

Review of Rustin Larson’s Lost Letters and Windfalls

Lost Letters and Windfalls

The world of Rustin Larson’s Lost Letters and Windfalls is populated with the ordinary and the ecstatic. Among cornfields, junkyards, and a Dairy Queen an eclectic cast of characters marches across a rural stage: an old woman small “like a burlap bag / full of nylons,” angels, finches, family members, the wind, the muse, and a young girl in a Degas painting.

The poet asserts: “The light falls upon all things. I have/ my memory of you—quiet as a/ picture frame among all these broken houses.” In poem after poem, Larson distills to the essence, painting tableaux firmly cast in time yet strangely eternal. Even the elements and houses have temperaments: “A violent emptiness is / the wind, and it can pick up whole / houses, if it wants, piling them like / crumpled egg shells in an open field.” Or: “The old house is crumbling from sympathy.”

While things fall apart, they are also restored and put back together. Somewhere along the way, all things turn a bit holy: “But here’s what we are: each man, each woman, / each neuter object, a church.” There is an unmistakable imagist quiet at the heart of the universe: “We can choose / to stand outside ourselves if we wish, the snow falling.”

“Listen,” Larson urges, “the world / begins in a moment.” The moment is painterly, vivid. The poet trusts only his “sense of touch.” Each poem etches a picture onto our retinas. Nothing much happens while the movement of life is also momentous. A daughter’s birth is announced like a “little beacon / pulse on the sonogram” and a father-in-law’s death is marked by his children sitting “in the room” and speaking “softly to the afternoon.” Every moment turns nearly breathless.

The universe of Larson’s poems exudes a warmth where “planets are “fishing / for us, wanting / us.” “The moon is the friend of the earth / and the earth of the sun.” This is a book of small tendernesses and lightning bolts that you will remember for a long time.

RED WING — Barnes and Noble

Thanks to the following journals which originally published some of these stories:

Wapsipinicon Almanac: “Red Wing,” “Lola,” “The Third King,” “Jules”
Delmarva Review: “Einstein”
Tower Journal: “God, Snow, and the Reverend Huhok”
The Iowa Source: “Pizza Buffet,” “Five Stories,” “Yellow Impala,” “The Incomplete History of the Village of Orilla”

“The Incomplete History of the Village of Orilla” also appeared in the short story collection Mental.

Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival.

He is a poetry professor at Maharishi University, a writing instructor at Kirkwood Community College, and has also been a writing instructor at Indian Hills Community College.

Among his published books are Library Rain, Conestoga Zen Press, 2019 which was named a February 2019 Exemplar by Grace Cavalieri and reviewed in The Washington Independent Review of Books; Howling Enigma, Conestoga Zen Press, 2018; Pavement, Blue Light Press, 2017; The Philosopher Savant, Glass Lyre Press, 2015; Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, & The Collected Discography of Morning, Blue Light Press, 2013; The Wine-Dark House, Blue Light Press, 2009; and Crazy Star, Loess Hills Books, 2005.

His honors and awards also include Pushcart Prize Nominee (seven times, 1988-2010); featured writer, DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts, 2007, 2008; and finalist, New England Review Narrative Poetry Competition, 1985.

Flower Mountain –

Poems in this book have appeared previously in these journals: Briar Cliff Review, Chiron Review,, Evening Street Review, Exit 13, Illya’s Honey, The Iowa Source, Lyrical Iowa, Metafore, Puerto Del Sol, Soundings East, 3rd Wednesday, Delmarva Review, North of Oxford, Weather Eye

About the Author: Rustin Larson’s fiction has appeared in Delmarva Review, Wapsipinicon Almanac, Tower Journal, and The Iowa Source. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Iowa Review, North American Review, The Penn Review and Poetry East. He is the author of Bum Cantos (Blue Light Press), The Philosopher Savant (Glass Lyre Press) and Pavement, winner of the Blue Light Poetry Prize for 2016. Praise for Rustin Larson In The Philosopher Savant Crosses the River, Rustin Larson now winds his words several notches closer to a phantom sense of the certainties we once thought we could assume – the way life promised a few solid things, perhaps the purpose of life, which now seems sold door to door as an abrupt change, if anything. Words in their ordinary sense have been released from those customary connections, and often seem spoken from a place of floating far below meaning’s surface, as if a sedimentia abounding in the reasoning of tea leaves or some other structure of correspondence beyond our normal grasp were sending messages to the surface of the page. And yet we are inclined to wholly accept their truths, given who the sayer is. Even adrift on this raft of free-floating words, the voice, the tone, the presence of Rustin Larson is moored in every line – the dark humor, the human suffering and human song, the impingement of childhood memories, the direct gaze at the sane absurdity of the world, have only gained ground. Philip Glass articulates / our brains in music, he says, and with a craft of impeccable syntax that holds onto the same roots as Bishop’s or Larkin’s, he, too, articulates those deeply patterned structures that give us hope and keep us here, reading on. – Audrey Bohanan

To See the Bonnards – Barnes and Noble Press

To See the Bonnards: poems
Some poems here previously appeared in: Aeolian Harp, The Briar Cliff Review, Collateral Damage, California Quarterly, Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace, COG, The Daily Palette, The Dryland Fish, In residence, The Iowa Source, JuJubes, Kentucky Review, Lascaux Review, Lyrical Iowa, The MacGuffin, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry East, Poets/Artists, Section 8, Verse Daily. Many thanks to the editors of these journals.

Conestoga Zen, an anthology

Conestoga Zen
Gary Young, Three Poems… 5
Christopher Seid, Three Poems… 6
Grace Richards, Screenvision #1, #2 & #3… 9
Matthew MacLeod, Poem– after Jack Spicer… 12
Helga Kidder, Three Poems… 13
Julie Sharp Emmons, Voices of Dawn… 16
Jennifer Grant, Life: Brought to You by Hasbro, Circa 1977… 17
Paula Yup, Three Poems… 18
W.E. Butts, Against Happiness… 20
William Kemmett, Poem… 22
Michael Carrino, The Cricket… 23
Margo Berdeshevsky, God Bless The Child That’s Got His Own… 24
Samn Stockwell, Sprite… 26
Steve Rose, Senior Swimmers… 27
Guna Moran, Good News… 28
Sabah Carrim, I Promise Not To Steal Your Words… 30
Tom Bierovic, Two Poems… 31
Artwork: “Moving to Canada” by Kate Knox… 32
S Stephanie, Come Back (After Kate Knox’s “Moving to Canada”)… 33
Stephen Page, It is Windy Today… 34
Suzanne Rhodenbaugh, Three Poems… 36
Rhoda Orme-Johnson, Two Poems… 39
Margo Von Strohuber, Three Poems… 42
Bill Graeser, Dolphins… 46
Pamela Harrison, Three Poems… 47
Cooper Young, Winter… 49
Christopher Buckley, Early Wind… 50
Loretta Diane Walker, Three Poems… 52
Marilyn Baszczynski, Two Poems… 55
Andrena Zawinski, Three Poems… 57
Donna Isaac, Whither… 60
Laurie Kuntz, Two Poems… 61
Claudine Nash, Three Poems… 63
Carey Link, Kaleidoscope… 66
Prartho Sereno, Two Poems… 67
Jennifer Lagier, Three Poems… 69
Anna Papadopoulos, Three Poems… 72
George Wallace, Three Poems… 75
Diane Frank, Two Poems… 78
Shelly Reed Thieman, Three Poems… 80
Jack M. Freedman, Disco Storm… 83
Ruth Housman, Two Poems… 84
John L. Stanizzi, Two Poems… 86
Karol Nielsen, Three Poems… 88
Hélène Cardona, Three Poems… 89
Nynke Salverda Passi, Three Poems… 92
Minca Borg, Two Poems… 96
Markham Johnson, Three Poems… 99
Dawn Terpstra, Three Poems… 103
Glenn Watt, Three Poems… 106
Barbara Novack, Two Poems… 109
Martin Willitts, Jr., Three Poems… 110
Rustin Larson,“Habitat Group For A Shooting Gallery,” Joseph Cornell, Des Moines Art Center… 113
Naomi Shihab Nye, Three Poems… 116
Vince Gotera, Three Poems… 117

The Philosopher Savant Crosses The River by Rustin Larson

North of Oxford

By Lynette G. Esposito
The Philosopher Savant CrossestheRiverpublished by New Chicago, reveals Rustin Larson’s sense of place, time and sense of humor in almost eighty pages of artistically controlled poems.
In,By Greyhound with Grandmotheron page nine,the reader is immediately invited onto the bus with a safe companion. Larson skillfully sets the scene with the title before he reveals the details in the text of the seven- stanza poem.
Quarters slid into the vending machine.
It’s good to have a town in mind in California
when you speak of death.
The scene is set, the location is clear and the action of eating from a vending machine shows the reader the circumstance. But death?
Subliminal messages: deviled ham
On white bread.
My grandmother handed me half.
The poem triggers the narrator’s memories of sound, taste and color. He mentions his grandmother again so the reader…

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