Vermaas, Lori 1966-

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Vermaas, Lori 1966-


Born December 20, 1966, in Fort Worth, TX; daughter of John (an air force officer and educator) and Mary Lou (an educator). Ethnicity: "Latina." Education: University of Texas at Austin, B.A., 1989; University of Iowa, M.A., 1992, Ph.D., 2000.


Home—Coralville, IA. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer and editor. University of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2001—, copy editor and proofreader, 2001—; Journal of Paleontology, Iowa City, production editor, 2003-06; Texas Tech University Press, Lubbock, assistant editor and journals manager, 2006—.


H-Environment, Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment.


Sequoia: The Heralded Tree in American Art and Culture, Smithsonian Books (Washington, DC), 2003.

Contributor to academic journals, including Environmental History, Annals of Iowa, Iowa Heritage Illustrated, Iowa Review, and H-Net Reviews.


Lori Vermaas is an American writer and editor. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 20, 1966, Vermaas completed a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. Her graduate degrees were later earned at the University of Iowa. She began her post-degree career in Iowa at the University of Iowa Press as an editor and proofreader. She has contributed articles, reviews, and her own poetry to a number of literary and academic journals. In 2003 she published her first book, Sequoia: The Heralded Tree in American Art and Culture.

Lori Vermaas told CA: "I am the author of Sequoia and numerous other research-based scholarly writings. I write in a variety of genres, including memoir and poetry. I am fascinated by people's responses to phenomena, whether natural landmarks, events, or urban artifacts—and thus tend to write about perception, particularly cultural perception, in American history.

"Most of my published work focuses on depictions of nature in America or Americans' attitudes toward nature. Discovering American art history really inspired my interest to write about nature and people's reaction to it, probably because it substantially includes the study of landscapes, but also because art in general is truly about perception. It records it, however imperfectly. The reasons I favor nineteenth-century landscapes are more mysterious to me, although they have something to do with my identifying with these artists' passion and need to metaphorize nature. Viewing these operatic landscapes reminds me that there's something more to our being here—that we're all on a quest and it is all-encompassing.

"I write primarily because it is unfailingly challenging, and it has periodically made me feel connected to something larger. While writing, I also get the chance not only to identify connections but make them and expand on them or alternately, simply follow their lead. Writing helps to keep me in an inspired state which nothing else has ever done for me. Even when I'm stuck while writing, with not much of anything useful coming out, just doing it infuses me with a sense of purpose or worth.

"My preferred writing process is to write in the morning. I force myself to go at least four hours and then spend the rest of the afternoon researching. When I'm blocked, sometimes I'll take notes by longhand and freewrite, which can be fun because it feels attractive for whatever reason, and work off it. The point is to start somewhere and just get words and ideas down to see what's bubbling around in my head. I used to write by hand, but now I get the most done when using a computer. My whole approach is to just write—knowing that I will revise later—with the attitude of just getting the ideas down, even if it is ugly. For instance, sometimes I'll write in fragments—as if I were trying to generate a rough draft of a poem—just to get things moving."



Journal of American Culture, March, 2006, Ray B. Browne, review of Sequoia: The Heralded Tree in American Art and Culture, p. 93.

Journal of American History, September, 2006, Michael P. Cohen, review of Sequoia, p. 605.