When the Jensen sisters, Candace Simar and Angela Foster, left their Otter Tail County dairy farm and moved to Pequot Lakes in 1970, they thought they had left their status as farm girls behind.
“Pequot was twice as large as our former high school,” Simar said in a recent interview. “It was intimidating to change schools for my senior year. Angela had a little easier time since she was five years younger.”
In Pequot Lakes, the sisters had more time for school activities, leisure and part-time jobs. Both girls worked at the Steer n Stein or Lakes Café.
“Waitressing was easier than the farm chores,” Foster said with a chuckle. “But I always missed being outside with the animals.”
Pequot Lakes High School offered more opportunities in the literary arts.
“I have the papers I wrote in Mrs. Lokken’s English class,” Simar said. “And I still regret being unable to study creative writing with Mr. Nagel.”
The Jensens, always avid readers, never considered writing until they entered their middle years. “On Oprah’s Couch,” an essay in their recently published book “Farm Girls,” tells the humorous story of how they began writing.
Simar has lived in Pequot Lakes her entire adult life. She is the author of “The Abercrombie Trail” series of which “Birdie” received the 2012 Spur Award.
Foster lives on a farm near Pine City and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Pine Manor College in Boston. She teaches creative writing at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and is a freelance editor.
“’Farm Girls’ is about more than our early years on the farm,” Foster said. “It provides insights into the complexities of our family and our individual lives.”
“Farm Girls” was just released by Chip and Jean Borkenhagen of RiverPlace Press in Brainerd.
“The perspective that Candace and Angela write about is universal to many families,” Chip Borkenhagen said. “Creating visual appeal and assembling a book with the class and intelligent words of these sisters has been such an honor. To take the words from two girls growing up on a farm and craft it into this publication completes the circle.”
The Crossing Arts Alliance in Brainerd will host a poetry event, Poetry on the Wall, from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. This free event will celebrate the release of “Farm Girls” along with local poets who will read their works on display.