Sweet Medicine: Sites of Indian
Massacres, Battlefields, and Treaties, Reviewed by Neila C. Seshachari
Blood Thirsty Savages, Reviewed by Shaun T. Griffin
Radiant Days: Writings, Reviewed by William E. Fischer, Jr.
Haste: Poems, Reviewed by Susan Smith Nash
The Landlady in Bangkok, Reviewed by Katharine Coles
Quilt Culture: Tracing the Pattern, Reviewed by Pauline Mortensen
Sweet Medicine: Sites of Indian Massacres, Battlefields, and Treaties. Photographs by Drex Brooks (Essay by Patricia Nelson Limerick, Foreword by James Welch). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995, 164 pp., $50 (cloth).
Reviewed by Neila C. Seshachari, Department of English, Weber State University
In 1855, after the massacre of the Brule Lakotas at Ash Hollow, Chief Sweet Medicine said to his people: "Soon you will find among you a people who have hair all over their faces, and whose skin is white.…They will try to change you from your way of living to theirs. They will tear up the earth, and … you will do it with them.…The white people will be all over the land, and at last you will disappear. I am sorry to say these things, but I have seen them, and you will find that they come true."
To see Drex Brooks's photographs and read accompanying commentaries in Sweet Medicine is to be transported into a world of betrayal and innocence to witness a tale of horror: see Native American men, women, and children massacred by American settlers at various battlefields; watch U.S. soldiers fighting the Six Nations Confederacy of Indians; be at the site where Metacom, a.k.a. King Philip to the colonists, was killed and his body quartered and displayed on trees, even though he was the son of Massasoit, without whose help the Plymouth colony would not have survived its first year; witness the ground where 96 peaceful Moravian Christian Delaware Indians living at the Gnadenhutten Mission were massacred in retaliation for raids and killings committed mostly by the Shawnees and Wyandots; reminisce at the site of the Battle of Bad Axe where over two-thirds of Black Hawk's 1,000 Sauk people were dead at the hands of government troops; gaze at a photograph of New Echota, Cherokee Capital and treaty site, where 15,000 Indians protested the Removal Treaty and were subsequently executed in "the most brutal order" or rounded up at the point of the bayonet into the stockades and herded into wagons headed for the West; and recognize at Fort Union Trading Post, smallpox introduction site, how European diseases were the weapon with which the New World was decimated.
The descriptions could go on, for this book features 60 photographs, each with a tale to tell. The text accompanying each photograph was patiently researched and excerpted by the author/photographer from historic documents of treaties, speeches, and other records. The melding of the photographs and texts achieves an incredibly vivid and emotional response for most viewers/readers. Even as we see the photographs of sites as they appear today—landscapes extraordinary at times, ordinary or desolate at others, but always beautiful as photographs—we are aware of the tumultuous skirmishes, battles, massacres, and atrocities that real people went through a hundred or two hundred years ago before treaties were struck on these sites.
To be with this book is to see, read, and feel all at once. This simultaneous activity of seeing, reading, and feeling page after page without warning or guile makes this book a unique experience, the kind we rarely encounter when operating in only one medium—text or photography. Having experienced this book, we will never again think of Native Americans in the same way, no matter what our original attitudes.
In his Foreword, James Welch prepares the ground for this pictorial "chronicle of the many battles, massacres, and broken treaties that led directly to the dire Indian condition today" and pays tribute to Drex Brooks's production as "a brave, true look at a shameful, neglected moment in the history of [hu]mankind" (xii).
Patricia Nelson Limerick's "after-essay" titled "Haunted America" puts U.S.-Native American relations in historical perspective. Lest we interpret this sad phase in our history with only our emotional response, Limerick, in a well-researched and provocative essay (119-163), beseeches us to keep a twelve-point/twelve-pattern guide in mind as we see Brooks's photographs. Not in every case were events one-sided. "Pattern 4: If Indians tried to terrorize settlers into leaving contested territory, whites instantly saw themselves as the innocent victims and Indians as the guilty aggressors, and thus the question of justification seemed settled" (135). Native American tribes frequently warring among themselves, as well as ill-trained, inexperienced government soldiers, committed blunders to escalate situations. "Pattern 12: These wars were often so bitter and so brutal that it is hard to imagine either (a) how the Indian wars ever turned romantic, picturesque, or fun in the hands of American myth-makers, or (b) how the survivors and their descendants were able to live in peace with each other" (150).
Limerick, however, does not give much thought to the inherent inequities in the brutal wars—that government troops had ammunition and guns, while the Native American braves had none or very limited quantities at best. She also does not probe into the kinds of peace that ensued after such treaties.
While Brooks's photographs with commentaries transport us into the midst of the painful wars, Limerick's essay brings us back into our times to remind us that U.S. history is fraught with subtexts, pain, and healing—a process that continues to this day. Sweet Medicine is a MUST SEE/READ/FEEL book for everyone and a must for every library.
Blood Thirsty Savages by Adrian C. Louis. St. Louis, MO: Time Being Books, 1994, 109pp., $12.50 (paper).
Reviewed by Shaun T. Griffin, Poet, Virginia City, Nevada
"Prayers for the Lost"—With this epigraph from Crazy Horse, Adrian C. Louis begins to wrest language from nearly every source—memory, imagination, and stark reservation life—and refuses, no mater how difficult the journey, to look back:
We had buffalo for food,
and their hides
for clothing our tipis.
hunting to a life of idleness
on reservations where
we were driven against our will.
This book left me to unfold the images of Pine Ridge and beyond, desperation I cannot imagine and, at its center, a poet who insists on writing the South Dakota landscape as it is. He will not change it or beautify it for the outside reader. There is no hint of pretension in these poems. They were born out of wedlock; they do not need a fairy godmother to bless them. They are stinging in their sass and dire in their regret. They have come to live among the most haunting imagery I have read.
With the exception of Jimmy Santiago Baca, few modern poets come at their subjects with the intensity of Adrian C. Louis. His words, long before they settled in my psyche, sheared away all footholds, and there was little to grasp save the wild images of Verdell Ten Bears staggering blind to the liquor store "to quiet that medevac chopper," or the "blood-eyed pack/of coyotes that nightly sneaks/up from the creek." The next-door neighbor with "a brown baby sprouting/from her cantaloupe breasts." All of it. Not just the failed welfare promises, but the residue of hope that persists in so small a thing as a mailbox: "It stands alone in defiance/of nature and winos."
This is a book of relentless desire to reclaim the stories and songs "of many red nations." If there is compassion in language, a humane force to be reckoned with, it is his. These poems rise off the page with such feeling that I want to scatter them like seeds in the hope that they may root and grow to gather other readers.
And scatter I should. So few readers know his work exists. But once they have read this book, I seriously doubt they will forget him. It has been over six months since I read Blood Thirsty Savages, and I still cannot get Verdell out of my mind. Even as I return to the book, I see him from Lovelock to Gallup, hollowed from the land Crazy Horse wanted no part of—the reservation—and it has eroded the life from him. He is less than man because the excuses, grown rabid with age, have left him too. And now he must face White Plains to find refuge where there is none.
If I camped on this soil, I could not find these words. If I worked the Post Office, the general store that eats the checks in a matter of days, if I stood the winter, I could not say these words. Adrian C. Louis has taken everything left him to fashion his poetry. From this unforgettable reservation come the voices that refuse to grow old. Perhaps this is the real miracle of Blood Thirsty Savages: unlike most poets in mid-career, he has resisted the temptation to color his experience with anything but the most honest language. I don't understand how he has reinvented the caricature we've made of native peoples, but he has done so, and done so wonderfully. They will not leave me, not the faces in this book.
Nor will their suffering. And for this he should be given the attention he deserves. I have watched his work mature over the years, and with this book he has, in my opinion, come to be one of the finest poets of his generation. He is an undeniably humane voice for the baby about to bloom in the teenage girl, for the coyote cornered in the maze of street lights, for the papier-mâché houses built to keep us from mourning. He sees straight to the end of this great impoverished land and keeps trying to feel the resonance of sun rising, women healing, and children playing.
Stark as his words may seem, they refuse to give up. I have read many voices from the Fire Water World (title of his earlier volume, roughly meaning white world), but there are few who make the visceral connection he does. Adrian C. Louis is an original; he is the shaman, the trickster, the poet. A voice of his own.
Whether he's alone on the reservation or gathered with his peers, his poetry is ravenous like "feral Indian cats" whose "claws auger flesh." His poetry is not sutured with respectability. Nor will these poems hide. For this I am grateful. If we are lucky, someone may listen and marvel at them. This is about as pure, raw, and passionate as poetry gets. And I hope you read this book.
Radiant Days: Writings by Enos Mills edited by John Dotson. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994, 224 pp., $35.00 (cloth), $15.95 (paper).
Reviewed by William E. Fischer, Jr., Historian, Seoul, Korea
The Progressive Era witnessed wide-ranging reform movements that sought to redress the excessive harm to the natural environment wrought by American industrialization and expansion. In the realm of natural resource reform, the legacy of John Muir has endured, but has also obscured the deeds of his contemporaries. One such naturalist was Enos Mills, a disciple of Muir, whose penultimate accomplishment was successfully securing the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Mills, when not working the Butte mine in Montana or, later, running his Longs Peak Inn, spent much of his life wandering the Rockies observing and interpreting the natural world. Taking to heart the recommendation of his friend Muir, Mills began to write and lecture to an increasingly nationwide audience. His influence was further enhanced when President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him Government Lecturer on Forestry in 1907.
Radiant Days contains nineteen essays selected "on the basis of quality and their suggestion of the variety of Mills's work" and "arranged to present a diverse and balanced sequence of themes—wilderness environments, experiences with animals, contemplations of primal discoveries, and journeys of high adventure" (xix-xx). Editor John Dotson opens the volume with a brief biography that establishes Mills in the context of the American conservation movement. Through succinct commentary on each essay, he then prepares the readers for what follows. Additionally, a chronology of significant events in the life of the naturalist and a selected bibliography are provided. Generally, however, the editor lets the essays speak for themselves.
And speak they do—of coyote and cougar, beaver and bear, majestic vistas, fire, wind, and starlit sky. Of the triumphs and tribulations penned by Mills, the saga of a thousand-year-old yellow pine is classic tragedy. Having maintained noble watch over southwestern Colorado for more than a millennium, the pine arrives at the day appointed for its cutting. Mills accepted the pine's fate with little protest, then commenced "to read Old Pine's autobiography" through its rings (49). Brilliant storytelling follows. In the end the evergreen, shattered into worthless splinters when its massive bulk comes crashing to earth, becomes its own funeral pyre, "a pyramid of golden flame standing out in the darkness" (57).
Yet the essays are more than just fanciful stories because they reveal attitudes about natural-resource conservation in turn-of-the-century America. How little those temperaments have changed over the past one hundred years. Mills celebrated the wit, courage, and loyalty displayed by the grizzly, and eagerly trailed it, unarmed in what he considered to be the "primeval play of the wilderness" (46). Close observation had shown him that man had little to fear from an animal that, unmolested, would rather turn tail and run than make a stand. Unfortunately, such wisdom did not overcome the popular fear and ignorance that resulted in the eradication of Ursus horribilus from the Central Rockies.
Time and again Mills the naturalist implored the multitudes to be responsible for their actions in the wild. For example, overtrapping had a much wider impact than solely on the species being hunted. Unattended campfires often became wildfires that senselessly decimated broad reaches of forest. Wanton killing of non-game animals, in one instance a pair of tame bluebirds that had raised several broods under the ridgepole of Mills's homestead cabin, seemed to him "barbaric sport" (110). Mills sought integration, not segregation, of humanity and nature; but he wanted an enlightened populace tramping through the woods. Thus, Mills came to serve as a conscience for the masses during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Mills's style is simple yet elegant; he's a storyteller who delights in nature. However, Mills at times embellishes his adventures. He was, after all, writing for a popular audience. Here you would do well not to be overly concerned with the issue of fact versus fabrication. Draw your own conclusions, but enjoy the stories for their bold, raw quality. Incorporate an attitude of childlike inquisitiveness into your reading.
Radiant Days is a welcome addition to several recently republished Mills monographs. The essays are timeless chronicles of nature's awesome spectacle—as readable and inspiring today as when first written. Keep the book on your nightstand, fluff up your pillow, and savor the smell of campfires as the naturalist spins a yarn. "Irresistible is nature's call to play," Mills declared. "We simply cannot tell what nature will have for us, or where next. But from near and far, ever calls her eloquent voice" (197). Relax and let Mills take you on the less-ventured path—at least until the alarm rings to usher in another busy day of commute, congestion, and the clock.
Haste: Poems by Lisa Orme Bickmore. Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1994, 60 pp., $10.95 (paper).
Reviewed by Susan Smith Nash, Department of English, University of Oklahoma, Norman
Lisa Orme Bickmore's poems resonate in the reader's mind with surprising psychological honesty. In fact, if one were to characterize Bickmore's writing, one could say she constructs psychological narratives although they do not construct the same world of raw, taboo emotions as in such Confessional poets as Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, or Anne Sexton. The unveilings in Bickmore's work are subtle, and they have more to do with the poetic representation of emotional changes and awarenesses than of the gothic horrors and recognitions of Sexton's To Bedlam and Part Way Back or Plath's Ariel.
Nevertheless, there is an emotional intensity—an urgency—in Bickmore's writing that is all the more compelling because it is not positioned at the extremes of experience but lies within the realm of the ordinary and the everyday. Written in first person, Bickmore's poems disarm the reader by seeming to be autobiographical vignettes which offer a glimpse into a private realm of deeply submerged feelings and fears. To achieve transparency is part of the artifice of these poems, and Bickmore's skill rests in creating a familiar ground.
Bickmore's insights are often uncomfortably honest and no less searing for not being presented in an elevated or hyperbolic tone. Unlike Plath or Sexton, Bickmore seldom employs disconcerting similes or metaphors. Neither does she use figurative language which surprises the reader with grotesque analogies. Instead, her analogies are constructed with a twinge of nostalgic longing, and they are less likely than Plath's or Sexton's to be violent. An example occurs in "My Discontent": "I stroke it with my right hand; the left under / The pillow like a slice of dreamer's wedding cake / I might wish upon, dream endlessly of endless / Marriage. One man, one mind"
At the heart of "My Discontent" is an ambivalence about intimacy. On the one hand, the narrator of the poem longs for the transcendent state of boundary-less union which is held out by society's conception of marriage. On the other hand, the protagonist resists this state of intimacy and separates herself. At this point, the poem represents alienation, disassociation, and a state of separation.
In other poems, Bickmore constructs a poetic representation of this condition by creating a paradox of separation within unity. In one poem, one can see a wife's loneliness while she lies in bed with her husband while, in another, one can see a wife tormenting herself with the sort of questions that impede yet protect her from true closeness. This is illustrated in a passage from "A Woman in Her Thirties":
uncrosses her legs and stands to cross a room
looks at the man she knows or doesn't know
and says why him? and then why not?
The craving for union is more tolerable than the union itself, and, in the end, because of that, the condition of intimacy will self-destruct.
Bickmore's poem "Francesca," alluding to a character in Dante's Inferno, illustrates the paradoxical nature of desire:
In those days, love, love, love was all my song…
The moment, the moment, that was all we cared for, and it seemed
To last eternally, until the moment passed: then that fierce dream—
The longing for more moments.
By writing in the persona of Francesca, who was ultimately destroyed and cast into eternal torment for her moment of union, Bickmore is able to make a powerful statement about the consequences of merging two separate identities. Yet Bickmore creates tension by emphasizing the paradox that knowledge of danger does not diminish desire.
Bickmore invariably describes intimacy between men and women as a kind of violence. For example, in "The Dream-Work"
His name—he doesn't matter, he's here to ask
Shoving me against the wall,
saying, you want this
Because in Bickmore's poetry intimacy is accompanied by an anxious mix of desire and avoidance, it is easy to see that when she writes about suicide, it is not so much about a rage toward the self, but is a desperate, last-ditch effort to separate and to avoid the ego-erasing boundary-transgressing exigencies of the merging of two individuals.
"They walk unfalteringly into a room / where the others are not permitted." Here, in "The Suicides," self-destruction is a way to escape other people's invasions.
Despite the gravity of the subject matter and the measured, even tone Bickmore takes in creating a poetic representation of uneasy psychological states, Haste is not a sad or depressing read. Instead, it is a forthright, perhaps painfully honest view of the vulnerability of the psyche to the stresses of everyday life.
The Landlady in Bangkok by Karen Swenson. Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1994, 96pp., $12 (paper).
Reviewed by Katharine Coles, Department of English, Westminster College, Salt Lake City
The strengths and weaknesses of The Landlady in Bangkok, Karen Swenson's new collection of poems, are like two sides of the same coin. The poems, which tell of Swenson's travels in Southeast Asia, offer up experiences unusual enough to be interesting in themselves. The details of place with which Swenson builds her themes give the poems an expansive and adventurous quality that much contemporary poetry, often closeted and domestic, lacks. And there are wonderful lines here, wonderful insights of craft. A sonnet, "The Bracelet," uses its formal turns to turn against a "Mobil-oil wife" her own words, with a deftness that takes the breath away.
As "The Bracelet" shows, the book is important in what it tries to do with the poet's experiences: to show and to question the relationship of colonist to colonized, of the "we" to the "they." The book attempts to subvert the hierarchy of "self" and "other," of powerful and rich to powerless and poor, of apparent conqueror to apparently conquered; it wants to turn these relationships and view them from the other side, so that the speaker or subject becomes "they," "other" to somebody else's subjectivity. It is in these examinations that the book both reaches toward real value and, too often, fails. There is enough skill here, along with an appealing wryness, to allow Swenson to question her own cultural impulses and to approach self-irony (as opposed to irony directed at others, of which there's plenty here) without often enough achieving it. Though the book purports to be partly about the self-awareness dislocation can create, there's not enough learned on this journey that a self-aware traveler of the late twentieth century wouldn't already know before setting out. The result is too often not an earned unease but the confirmation of a previously determined moral.
This is not to say I don't usually agree with the poet's conclusions. I do, easily, right up to and often beyond the point where the poems simplify and become didactic, then state their conclusions baldly in case the reader missed them. Even in the opening poem, "What Does a Woman Want?" the poet answers her own question—in this case, Freud's famous question—with what has already become conventional wisdom, touted not only in psychoanalytic texts but even in popular self-help books: that a woman envies not penises themselves but "the acceptance that accrues to cocks." There's pleasure in the sound of this line, but in expressing this truism, and didactically, Swenson mistrusts the reader to bring even pop-culture-level insight to the poem. In "Cultural Exchange," a potentially explosive turn, in which all white women are projected through Madonna as sexually objectified "other" into the imaginative life of Asia, is undercut when the poem seems to use this turn to blame all the dangers faced by white women traveling alone on Madonna's videos.
A more interesting strategy occurs in "The Beast," where the poem's explicit "moral" works both because the lines containing it are beautiful and because the poem relies on fairy tale, a moral form, to arrive at its conclusion. Even more interesting is the poem's contrasting of two similar fairy tales, its exploration of how moral differs precisely where cultural narrative differs. And the poem "My Lai" is absolutely successful, stunning in what it resists saying as well as in its subtle use of the pronoun "my." The poem begins:
An embassy's tall gate off a dirt road
is the first anomaly, the second, drinking
tea in a cracked cup, where my people
committed massacre. We walk…
Next to this simplicity in which complexity builds, other poems are too easy, too sensible; too many of their confessions seem, in 1995, to be the kind we already know how to make, designed to make me, the agreeable reader, feel righteous and right-thinking and better. Not more than the Asian locals, of course—the poems reward me for being better tutored than thisbut than all those other visitors from my own culture: the Mobil-oil wife, missionaries with their pantry-stocks of Spam, imperialists of various stripes who are not as enlightened as the poet and I. In an irony the poems don't seem to acknowledge, these are the only people in the poems who remain unequivocally "they." Perhaps they have earned this status through their insistence on "we," but it is nonetheless here, in evoking people who are in some important ways most like us but whom we may least wish to be like, that the poetic knot becomes most complex, most apt to reveal something of the poet's and therefore the reader's own complicity; and it is here that the poems most often insist on evading the issue.
"We all know what to think," the book's final poem, "We," tells us. Well, yes. And what we know now is what most of us knew at the start: that, as the book's closing lines say, "One pronoun keeps at bay our guilt/they they they they they they they they."
Quilt Culture: Tracing the Pattern edited by Cheryl B. Torsney and Judy Elsley. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1994, 197 pp., $32.95 (cloth).
Reviewed by Pauline Mortensen, Writer and Quilter, Orem, Utah (Return to top of page)
Torsney and Elsley piece together a variety of narrative styles and critical approaches, the whole of which is greater than the sum of its parts. The first seven essays explore the meaning of quilting in literature. The last four explore the meaning of quilting in culture. The collection also includes a twenty-one page bibliography.
Torsney in the opening essay relates how visiting a quilter in a woman's prison informed her reading of Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," and ultimately informed her career. Torsney demonstrates that to attain the coveted broader view of the academic, the academic must also live the text. She warns of what happens when the personal and the academic remain in separate spheres.
Audry Bilger revives for us a reading of a sixteenth century text (A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies) in which Jane Barker argues that quilting be used as an acceptable model for female authorship. Unlike fine embroidery which embodies the ethereal qualities of the romance, patchwork quilting embodies the everyday qualities of the novel.
In "Reading Lessons," Anne Bower teaches us how to be better quilt readers by examining six contemporary poems. Some poems reveal how quilts give us the other half of history and inspire women to find their ethnic and cultural inheritance, while other poems warn us against taking the nostalgic "communal" view of quilt making and encourage us to see the individuality and variety of texts. Similarly, Cathy Peppers advocates listening to the culturally specific aspects of quilting in Tony Morrison's Beloved. Rather than colonize a reading of the novel, Peppers asks us to see how the narrative deconstructs master narratives and fabricates alternate realities.
Margot Anne Kelley asks us to consider African American women writers in light of an African American quilting aesthetic. In works by Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Gloria Naylor, she points out how quilting underscores ideas of connectivity, improvisation, and reinvention. An even closer reading of The Color Purple by Judy Elsley shows that quilting is a metaphor for self-reclamation. The act of piecing together a quilt parallels Celie's own attempts to bring together the fragments of her life.
Page Laws' essay compares Michel Butor's borrowings (as rendered fictionally in Mobile) with the original quilt tour guide from the Shelburne Museum. The comparison is noteworthy because Butor recognizes the mythic and artistic truth behind the quilts, truths that were overlooked or discounted by the author of the tour guide.
Van E. Hillard discusses the NAMES Project Quilt in relation to a tradition of quilts being created for rhetorical purposes. He points out, however, that the NAMES quilt is a postmodern representation of a traditional rhetorical form in which the demands of consumption and distribution (panels pieced together in eight-patch sections and displayed across the country) undercut the inherent quilt symbology of connection and community.
The last three essays also explore the commodification of quilts in contemporary society. Nora Ruth Roberts argues that the heirloom transmission of quilts is a way to transcend the alienated nature of a materialistic society because quilting affirms the true human and social nature of the individual. And Susan Bernick describes how quilting has been exploited by the art world, even as quilting has been elevated as art. The traditional quilt culture (composed of quilters) has been ignored in terms of their own set of values and quilting aesthetics.
Susan Bernick describes the historical exploitation of quilt culture that has taken place even as quilting has been elevated as art. The art quilt tradition typically has bought low and sold high, ignored authorship, applied critical judgment to quilts regardless of their social context and, in short, committed cultural theft. Meanwhile, the traditional quilt culture (composed of quilters) has been ignored in terms of their own set of values and quilting aesthetics. While the feminist quilt tradition has made major blunders, it has also made major advances in valorizing the traditional quilt culture and should continue to strive to see beyond preconceived notions of quilting.
In the final essay, Susan Behuniak-Long explores and explodes the notion that technology has somehow created the demise of good quilting. She compares the creation of an Amish quilt (created in assembly-line fashion) to one woman sewing at her machine and asks: Which demonstrates a quilter in control of her own creativity? Which one demonstrates commodification? The answer, of course, is that true art and human value can, indeed, lie at the tip of the sewing machine needle. Thus, quilting is still a current event rather than a cultural artifact. It is an event that continues to affirm the values of connection and community. It is an event that ultimately preserves the social fabric itself.
For those of us "enmeshed" in a quilting culture and loving every minute of it, this book comes as a happy anecdote after the first half of a life well-lived. For those of us estranged from our roots, the collection can be the key that brings us home again. For the rest of us, Quilt Culture is a highly successful jaunt that takes us to where quilts mean.