Nebraska Authors

Bernice Slote

Born 1913-11-17 Hickman, NE (USA)

Died 1983-02-22
Lincoln, NE (USA)

Bernice Slote was the granddaughter of Nebraska homesteaders and said of her home state in a letter to Frank Henry Woods Jr., "there may be unexpected unifications through the arts. At Avignon, I realized why that place had been so important to Willa Cather - it was a combination of the Roman world, the medieval church, and the color, air, and feel of Nebraska". An accomplished poet, Slote's work appeared in leading journals around the country: The Atlantic Monthly, Michigan Quarterly Review, Voices, Poetry Chap-Book, etc. In 1963 she became editor of Prairie Schooner, a responsibility she retained until her retirement in 1980. She collaborated with Robert Knoll and James Miller on the KUON television show, Conversation Piece, a program that featured poetry for reading and discussion. The three became known as "The Poetry Trio".
Slote is best known as a literary scholar and the biographer for Willa Cather. A poet first, she did not abandon her talent when she became a literary critic. Even in her scholarship, her work contains the marks, rhythms and sounds of a poet.
Bernice Slote was also active on the Board of Governors of the Willa Cather Memorial in Red Cloud, the Nebraska State Poet Laureate Commission, and the Western Literature Association.

In HR Archive: "The Bernice Slote Collection. Search for a Poet Laureate: 1975 –1982." Single large storage box, in HR Archive.

Places Lived

Lincoln, NE
Ord, NE

Author Of

  • Nonfiction
  • Poetry


Poetry; Literary Criticism; Willa Cather biography


Nebraska Wesleyan, Lincoln, BA, 1933
University of Nebraska, Lincoln, MA, 1941
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (graduate work as a Hopwood scholar, summers 1944 and 1945)


High School Teacher
Associate Professor of English
Editor for the Prairie Schooner 1963-1980

Places Worked

Ord High School
Norfolk Junior College
University of Nebraska;


Michigan University Honors for Poetry, 1944 and 1945
Won the Avery Hopwood Award for a collection of 14 poems, 1945
Explicator award for Best Literary Analysis for Keats and the Dramatic Principle, 1958
Woods Fellowship for 1959-60
Outstanding Book of Poetry award for Start with the Sun: Studies in Cosmic Poetry, 1960


Associated with Prairie Schooner since 1955. Associate Editor under Lowry Wimberly (1955). Acting Editor 1961-62 while Karl Shapiro was on leave. Editor of Prairie Schooner, 1963 to 1980.
Poetry and Criticism Consultant to the University of Nebraska Press.
Long association with Virginia Faulkner in Cather scholarship. See also Susan Rosowski.


Grandfather. 1957.
Keats and the Dramatic Principle. 1958.
Start With the Sun: Studies in Cosmic Poetry. 1960. (with James Miller, Jr. andKarl Shapiro)
Start With the Sun: Studies in the Whitman Tradition. 1960. (with James Miller,Jr. and Karl Shapiro)
Myth and Symbol: Critical Approaches and Applications. 1962.
Literature and Society: A election of Papers. 1963.
Willa Cather: A Pictorial Memoir. 1973. (with L. Woods)
Literature and Society: Ninteen Essays. 1964.
Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017. 2017. (Contributor.)

Poetry and critical articles have appeared in;
Yale Review
Sewanee Review
American Scholar
Ladies Home Journal
Saturday Evening Post
Prairie Schooner

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Bernice Slote

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)