Kathleen Norris (poet)

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Kathleen Norris (born July 27, 1947) is a poet and essayist.


Kathleen Norris was born in Washington, D.C., on July 27, 1947. As a child, Norris moved to Hawaii with her parents, John Norris and Lois Totten, and in 1965 graduated from Punahou Preparatory School. Growing up, she spent most summers in her grandparents' town, Lemmon, South Dakota.[1]

After graduating from Bennington College in Vermont in 1969, Norris became arts administrator of the Academy of American Poets, and published her first book of poetry two years later.[2] In 1974 she inherited her grandparents' farm in Lemmon, South Dakota, and moved there with her husband, poet David Dwyer. In Lemmon, she joined Spencer Memorial Presbyterian church, and discovered the spirituality of the Great Plains.[3] In 1986, Norris started writing non-fiction after becoming a Benedictine oblate at Assumption Abbey in Richardton, North Dakota, and spending extended periods at Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.[4] At this period in her career, one of her focuses was death and depression.[5] In 1998, Norris gave the Mandeleva Lecture at St. Mary's College in Indiana, a lecture which became the basis for The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women’s Work".[6] After the death of her husband in 2003, Norris transferred her place of residence back to Hawaii.

Published books[edit]


  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston/New York City 1993, ISBN 0-395-71091-X (pbk.) (awarded "Notable Book" status by The New York Times)
  • The Cloister Walk (1996)
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (1998)
  • The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work" (1998)
  • The Virgin of Bennington (2001)
  • The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica (2001)
  • Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, And A Writer's Life (2008)


  • Falling Off (1971)
  • The Middle of the World (1981)
  • The Year of Common Things (1988)
  • Little Girls in Church (1995)
  • Journey: New and Selected Poems, 1969–1999. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2001, ISBN 0-8229-4137-6.

Norris has also been a regular contributor to such magazines as Christian Century.


  1. ^ 'About the Author, 'Dakota: A Spiritual Geography,' 1993.
  2. ^ Kathleen Norris, Falling Off, Big Table Publishing Company, 1971.
  3. ^ Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, 1993.
  4. ^ Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk, Riverhead Books, 1996.
  5. ^ "Author Kathleen Norris talks about death, writing and the contemplative life". America Magazine. 2015-06-19. Retrieved 2019-05-01.
  6. ^ "May | 2022 | Hearts & Minds Books". 28 May 2022. Retrieved 2023-02-07.

External links[edit]