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Photograph of Kansas Poet Duane Herrmann

Duane L. Herrmann


Prairies of Possibilities book cover


Duane L. Herrmann was born in 1951 and raised on a farm near Berryton, Kansas.  He still does much of his writing out on the farm under the trees in the breeze.  He began composing stories at a very young age as an alternative to daily life.  To say his childhood was painful is mild; he was suicidal by age 12.  He spent as much time as possible with his grandparents on their farm next door.  At 13 he was taught how to operate farm equipment to help on the farm.

In his elementary school years he began writing his stories down, but none survive.  In high school he began writing poetry, the first of which was published his senior year.  He attended Washburn University in Topeka one year, then transferred to Ft Hays State in Hays, Kansas.  He had accepted the Baha’i Faith while at Washburn and then helped begin a Baha’i community in Hays.  While doing his student teaching, he also lived in Garden City.  His first professional job was as an Elementary Librarian in Topeka.  He holds degrees in Education and History and has taught at Allen County Community College. He married and had four children.  During the 1980s, doing most of the work himself, he built a house near Berryton to raise his children.  The marriage ended in the '90s.

In the four decades since high school his work has been published in the United States, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and Wales, in English, German, French and Dutch. Translations are forthcoming in Italian and Farsi.  His work has been cited in (at least) the U.S., Denmark and Germany.  And news reports about his work have appeared in France and Iceland in those respective languages.

He has given poetry readings in various cities in Kansas, as well as in Nebraska, California, Illinois, Michigan and New York – and in Canada and Germany.

In addition to poetry he writes short stories, stories for children, essays, memoirs and (ground breaking) history specializing in the second Baha’i community west of Egypt (which is in Kansas).

All in all, not bad for a farm boy with dyslexia, cyclothymia, an anxiety disorder and post traumatic stress.

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  

Unconventional Bibliography of Accomplishments
1969 – 2009

Books (chapters or other, chronologically by publication date):

Once to Every Man and Nation, George Ronald (Oxford, England), 1985
   "Kansas Farm Boy," p.103-108

Wherefore Two (Canada), November 1986
   "Silent Footsteps Passing"  {poem}  p.4
   "I Heard"  {poem}  p.4
   "Echoes of Devotion"  {poem}  p.5
   "Lonely Universe"  {poem}  p.5

Ninety Years in Kansas, The Bahá'í Faith: 1897-1987, Buffalo Press (Topeka) 1987

Fasting: The Moon and Its Suns, A Baha'i Handbook, George Ronald (Oxford, England), 1990
   "Observing the Fast - When you are not to Abstain From Food," p.52-56

Expanded and reprinted, 2002

"Boekbespreking: Fasting a Bahá’í Handbook."  Bahá’í Vizier, 42 Jaargang (Netherlands) 2003
      "Samengesteld door Duane L. Herrmann." p.207

Published Works Continued...

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Writing Samples  

Prairies of Possibilities


I plow the paper with a pen
engaged as the family has been
in cultivation: sowing and reaping.

I plow the paper with a pen,
in a solitary field -
it always has been.

My father was a farmer,
his father, and his before him;
we are plowmen in our rows.

I plow the paper with a pen -
rows of words across the space
in neat and even lines.

Though plowing is the family business,
my "machineries" now differ
for a different kind of crop.

But the plowing is the same:
long straight lines
across unmarked fields.



The heat had been forever:
    constant oven-wind
    shriveled leaves and trees.

Cemented soil cracked
    in canyons reaching deep
    into the tortured earth.

No rain for more than weeks;
    moisture only dimly
    a faint and fragrant memory.

Suddenly from far away
    echoed muffled rumblings,
    and low dark clouds.

Salvation seemed too true
    to suspend parched lips
    or slack dry skin.

Eyes watched with hope and wonder
    as clouds relieved the sky
    from the searing sun.

A miraculous wall of wet
    advanced across the fields
    and, suddenly, was here.

God was good again.
    Steady showering filled
    pores and cracks and leaves.

The crops and life and animals
    were saved.  The family
    would survive another year.



Over the fields and prairie
   creeks and tree lines
endless miles
   of countryside,
I survey my domain,
   All MINE!  All MINE!
The wind past my eyes
   lifts me up or down.
A sound carries
   on the wind
and I know
   food is near.
I see motion
   and swoop down,
the meal...
   will be mine.

   Life is good!



Invisible to the traveler now,
   two tracks through the grass,
but the discerning eye
   can see two fence rows on each side.

Across the prairie and down
   the hill it leads
over a little cement bridge,
   with iron rails;

One missing.
   Also missing is the house
and barn and windmill.
   Not even a line of stones.

His early life,
   his boyhood home,
has returned to the prairie
   from whence it came.

The earth
   reclaimed it's own.

But the road remains
   to show the way
to the past of my grandfather's life:
   he walked this way to school.

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Editor of:

  • Kansas Bahá'í Newsletter: 1972-3, 1976, 1977-79.
  • "Inscape" of Washburn University, poetry editor: 1987-89.
  • Voices From a Borrowed Garden, Louhelen Bahá'í School & Buffalo Press, 1990.
  • Thanks and Giving,  - Grant Cushinberry, Buffalo Press, Topeka, 1990.
  • The Heart of What Is,  - Doug E. Shaffer, Buffalo Press, Topeka, 1990.
  • "Allegro," Topeka Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Editor: 1991-92.
  • "Orison," Arts Review, Association for Bahá'í Studies (Canada), Assistant Editor: 1994.
  • "KPERS Commotions": 1993-97.

Major Presentations:

  • Bahá'í Studies Association Midwest Conference, Louhelen, Davison, MI: 1981
        "Houses as Perfect as Can Be."
  • Los Angeles Bahá'í History Conference, Los Angeles, 1985
        "The First Half-Century of the Bahá'í Faith in Kansas."
  • “Issues in Contemporary American Poetry,” East & West Literary Foundation conference, San Francisco, August 1993 (presented in absentia)
        "Robert Hayden and Political Correctness."
  • Association for Bahá'í Studies Annual Conference, Montreal, June 1993 (presented in absentia)
        "Nourishment," {poem}
        "Perfection is Not…" {poem}
  • National Bahá'í History Conference, Bahá'í National Center, Evanston, IL: 1994
        "Exegesis of Letters from a Nineteenth Century Kansas Bahá'í."
  • National Bahá'í History Conference, Bahá'í National Center, Evanston, IL: 1996
    "1897 Press Reception of the Bahá'í Faith in Kansas."
  • Life of the Spirit Conference, Bahá'í National Center, Evanston, IL: 1999
        "The Light,"  {poem}
        "In the Darkness Shines,"  {poem}
        "In Wonder,"   {poem}
  • Association for Bahá’í Studies Annual Conference, San Francisco, Aug 9-12, 2006
        "Nazi Destruction of the German Bahá’í Community."
  • Association for Bahá’í Studies Annual Conference, Mississauga, CA, Aug 16-19, 2007
  • "Topeka Bahá’í centennial history: research, writing and publication."

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Recognition and Awards  
  • Kalimat History Conference Grant, 1986.
  • Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, 1989
  • Topeka Capital-Journal
        "Duane L. Herrmann," 11 Oct. 1992, p.C-2
  • The American Bahá'í
        "Duane L. Herrmann,"  Sultan 150, p. 8
        "Excellence in All Things: Duane L. Herrmann,"  Bahá 161/March       2004, p.31
  •     "Kansas Poet Overcomes Hurdles,"  (with photo)  23 November                 2007, p.35
  • "Influence on Human Progress ," (mention of Nazi presentation)  16      October 2006, p.10
  • Association for Bahá'í Studies Bulletin
        "Duane L. Herrmann,"  July 1993, p.6
      "mention of conference presentation," Sept 2006, p.8
  • Kansas State Poetry Society
        First Prize: Narrative Poem, 1993  ("A Leaf Sighs")
  • Forum (New Zealand
        issue dedicated to Duane L. Herrmann   Vol. 3 No. 1, 1994, verso.
  • Kansas Authors Club, 2003 Contests
         Write About a Kansas Author - Honorable Mention: "Dr. David S.      Ruhe: Kansas Author"
        Convention Theme Poetry - Second Place: "Trees"
        Historical Research - Honorable Mention: "Early Members of the
         Topeka Bahá’í Community"
  • Kansas Authors Club, 2004 Contest
        Narrative Verse: "Home to Bayern"
  • Kansas Authors Club, 2005 Contest
        Narrative verse: "The Beginning and the End"
        "Remembrance" posted on Archive page, 26 June 2006
        profile and other poems in author and poem index
  • Kansas Center For the Book
        "Kansas Author" web listing, 2006
  •     Citizens of the World: A History and Sociology of the Bahá’ís from a Globalisation Perspective, Dr Margit Warburg, (Brill: Leiden, Nederland) 2006
        Quoted, p. 490: “The oneness of humanity is expressed in the                  architecture of Bahá’í Houses of Worship by incorporating                         indigenous cultural symbols and transforming them into universal symbols.” (‘Houses as Perfect as Is Possible,’ World Order, p.18).
       Cited, pp. 52, 487, 559
       References, p. 359
        Nine poems posted
  • Kansas Authors Club, Spring 2007 newsletter
        review of Prairies of Possibilities, p.7
  • Ferguson Kansas History Book Award: 2007
        By Thy Strengthening Grace
  • Bahá’í Encyclopedia Project
        “Mashriqu’l-Adhkar” - cited as a source of information (World                Order, Fall 1994 article)
  • Ad Astra Poetry Contest #6: Kansas Myths (April 2009)
        On the Central Plain
  • Ft Hays State University Magazine - Summer 2009
        Tiger Notes: notice of Ferguson History Book Award
  • Poet’s Walk (downtown Wichita, KS) 2009
        Family Plowing

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