Nancy Hayes grew up on the banks of the Mississippi in Davenport, Iowa. She earned a BA in English from Smith College, an MA in English from the University of Connecticut, and after nine years of teaching English in southern Germany, she commuted to Iowa City from Davenport to earn an MFA in Literary Translation and a PhD in Comparative Literature. She translated medieval German love songs for the MFA and wrote her dissertation on the Renaissance witch figure as a negative maternal construct, all the while trying hard to be a positive maternal construct for her three children. Now a Professor Emerita, Nancy taught English for nineteen years at St. Ambrose University in Davenport where she became known as the Shakespeare Lady.
Nancy is shifting from teaching literature to writing it—-shifting from Old to New World subjects. With her poetry, she wants to dig into her eastern Iowa soil to discover past lives, to dignify Native American traditions, to understand the unsettling impact of the European settlers, and to write paeans to the beauty of the Big and Little Bluestem and the Pale Yellow Coneflower. [Nancy and her husband re-established a prairie on his family homestead next to the Toolesboro Indian Mounds above the confluence of the Iowa and the Mississippi Rivers. Here the Hopewell honored their dead 2,000 years ago, the Oneota built a large village 400 years ago, and Black Hawk with his defeated band of warriors dwelled after the Black Hawk War of 1832.]??