Kevin Rabas is co-director of Emporia State University’s creative writing program. He is the author of two books: Bird’s Horn and Other Poems, and Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano. The latter is a 2010 Kansas Notable Book.

Cheryl Unruh’s essays, culled from her best columns in The Emporia Gazette and Flyover People, demonstrate an eye for detail and an ear for nuance. She knows her people, their ways and their loves and losses. She is our reporter of the heart, and what she captures here in her words is nothing less than our Midwestern life. She reminds me of other great essayists in the features style—Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Barry Lopez—but, of course, Cheryl is her own and has her own meditative, inquisitive, heart-warming style.