DUBUQUE, Iowa – Kevin Koch, faculty department chair and tenured English professor at Loras College, will present his newest literary publication “The Thin Places” on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Academic Resource Center. Copies of Koch’s latest book will be available for purchase.
For Koch, “The Thin Places: A Celtic Landscape” is the fourth book he has authored, following in the footsteps of “The Driftless Land: Spirit of Places in the Upper Mississippi Valley” (2010), “Skiing at Midnight: A Midnight Journal from Dubuque County, Iowa” (2002) and “Rising with Christ: Catholic Women’s Voices from Across the World” (1994).
The book connects places in Ireland with places in the American Midwest’s Driftless Area along themes of Celtic Spirituality organized around the eight feast days of the Celtic Wheel of the Year. The term ‘driftless area’ refers to the hilly, rocky terrain of the Upper Mississippi Valley and southwest/central Wisconsin that was bypassed by the glaciers that leveled much of the Midwest, hence it has little to no glacial ‘drift’.
When asked what he hopes his readers to walk away with after reading his book, Koch shared, “I hope the reader takes away two main ideas: That the earth is sacred and should not be wantonly destroyed; And that travel to other places can help one to see one’s own home landscape with new eyes.”
“The work explores a spirituality of nature that draws from the Catholic Christian tradition, from pre-Christian and Christian Celtic culture, from Native American traditions, and from contemporary post-Christian thought,” Koch shared. “Thin places,” in traditional Celtic lore, refers to those places where the veil between this world and the otherworld is thin and porous.”
In 2012, Koch was the Faculty Study Abroad Director for Ireland, spending four months on the “Emerald Isle”. He later returned in 2016 for two months to compile research for “The Thin Places”. He spent a majority of his time in Westport, conducting interviews and connecting with mountaineers, geologists, conservationists and spiritual leaders for guided hikes in the mountains and bogs.
Koch’s courses at Loras includes ‘Nature Writing’, ‘Writing the Midwest Landscape’, ‘Writing the Mississippi Nonfiction, ‘Monastery Voices’ and ‘The Nature of Nature in Ireland’.
ABOUT LORAS COLLEGE
Loras leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan institutions to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. Loras ranks among 450 NCAA Division III athletic programs in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, 11th out of the Top 100 baccalaureate colleges, according to the 2016 Washington Monthly College Rankings, 13th Best Regional College, according to Midwest U.S. News Best Colleges and is among the 200 Best-Loved Colleges in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.