Food of Gods and Starvelings: The Selected Poems of Grace Stone Coates

Food of Gods and Starvelings: The Selected Poems of Grace Stone Coates


Lee Rostad & Rick Newby, editors

244 pages
ISBN; 0-9769684-0-1


With the publication of Food of Gods and Starvelings: The Selected Poems of Grace Stone Coates, Drumlummon Institute brings back into print the poetic works of a leading twentieth-century writer of the American West. Edited by Lee Rostad and Rick Newby, the substantial collection showcases more than 200 of Coates’ “irresistible, poignant and authentic” poems.

During her lifetime, Grace Stone Coates (1881-1976) published two critically acclaimed collections of poems, Mead and Mangel-Wurzel and Portulacas in the Wheat, and the novel, Black Cherries. Twenty of her short stories were cited in Best American Short Stories, and she was among the most widely published American poets west of the Mississippi prior to World War II. She served as assistant editor for the regional literary journal, Frontier and Midland, of The University of Montana, where she worked closely with legendary editor Harold G. Merriam.

Food of Gods and Starvelings contains the two collections Coates published during her lifetime, plus more than seventy uncollected poems drawn from literary journals and the poet’s notebooks.

Co-editor Lee Rostad is author of the award-winning biography, Grace Stone Coates: Her Life in Letters (Riverbend, 2004) and recipient of the Montana Governor’s Award in the Humanities; co-editor Rick Newby has edited many books, including The New Montana Story: An Anthology (Riverbend, 2003) and A Most Desperate Situation: Frontier Adventures of a Young Scout, 1858-1864, by Walter Cooper (illustrations by Charles M. Russell).

[Grace Stone Coates is] a woman hungrily embittered but determined to keep on facing life. . . . It is a volume of rhymed eloquence, but some of the eloquent rhyming is trenchant and searching   — Harriet Monroe , reviewing Coates’ Mead and Mangel-Wurzel in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (1932)

Editors Lee Rostad and Rick Newby make a wise choice in selecting the poetry of Grace Stone Coates as the inaugural book to be published by the Drumlummon Institute, and one hopes that this treasure chest of Montana poetry soon makes its way onto the syllabi of literature professors throughout the West.   — Aaron Parrett , Montana The Magazine of Western History

[Grace Stone Coates] was a true poet of the Northern Plains: one small, finite being in an enormous landscape of earth, wind, passion, wonder and loneliness. Yet most of her poems feature the emotional landscape: love, marriage, loss, desire, grief. But these are not mere feelings; they are phenomena, just like disease or sunlight. In [Coates], even grief inspires wonder at its depth and shape. . . . from Drumlummon Institute, Montana’s unofficial curator of literature, art and culture.”   — Krys Holmes, Montana Magazine

Like a twentieth-century Emily Dickinson, [Grace Stone Coates] writes of the world around her from the small town of Martinsdale, Montana, and her poetry is at once as sweeping and as precise as the prairie she lived on. With startling imagery and philosophical acuity, she explores the emotional landscape between men and women, mothers and daughters, small-town neighbors, and between a lonely woman and the landscape she lives in. Her voice rings clear, her eye is sharp, and her music is unerring.   — Caroline Patterson, editor Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart