Candles at Canaan: Signs of Life in a Lonesome Land

Produced by Tom Isern and Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo,
North Dakota, 2006, 2-CD audio set

Candles at Canaan: Signs of Life in a Lonesome Land is a two-CD set featuring regionalist essays by Tom Isern, a folklorist, professor of history at North Dakota State University and "Plains Folk" columnist for Prairie Public. Isern is a lifelong resident of the Great Plains. His pal, Bob Groves, who provides the musical interludes between the essays, is a professor of music at North Dakota State University, Fargo. Isern is author or co-author of six books about life on the plains.

Essays in the set celebrate life on the plain - memorializing the Can Pile of Casselton, the petrified wood shrines of New England or the Grandin smelt fry, for instance. The title essay of the CD set is a sketch of the Christmas Eve service at Canaan Church. "Like all the 24 essays in the set," said Isern, "this one has a message of hope - hope about living a good life on the prairies."

Isern's essays have been published in newspapers across North Dakota, and they became a radio feature on Prairie Public in 2004. "We love running Tom's essays on Prairie Public because he offers such insightful nuggets of commentary about life on the upper great plains," said Bill Thomas, director of radio for Prairie Public. "We've wanted to produce a collection of Tom's essays for some time, and it's great to see the whole project come together and the public's positive reaction to it."

"A community has to find its center somewhere," from Smelt Fry. "There is a role in any community for specialists charged with the preservation of tradition," from Lutefisk & Meatballs. CD #1 includes the following essays: 1) Can Pile 2) Sister Catherine’s Grotto 3) Cruel Cold Land 4) Driving to Manfred 5) Newcomers 6) Social Capital 7) Take Back the Taverns 8) Holiday House 9) Smelt Fry 10) Signs & Wonders 11) North Dakota Rant 12) Mysterious. CD #2 includes the following essays: 1) Lutefisk & Meatballs 2) Turkey & Kraut 3) Cruel Cold Land 4) Chubaracka 5) Red-eye 6) Chokecherry Hostile 7) Cowbell Game 8) Goat Game 9) Rednob’s Return 10) Cradle Hymn 11) Cather Christmas 12) Candles at Canaan.

Tom Isern's website is

Candles at Canaan: Signs of Life in a Lonesome Land

2-CD audio set is $20.00 plus Shipping & Handling

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