Poetry Inspired by Art: On View at Mead Library until May 31, 2022

April was National Poetry Month and to celebrate that, I created a prompt for visitors at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center to use to write ekphrastic poetry. An ekphrastic poem is one that is written in response to a work of art in another medium. “Ekphrasis” is a Greek word that means “description.”

Once again, Mead Library graciously provided space in the first floor display case to share the poems that were created from the prompt. Many of the ekphrastic poems on display were written by Sheboygan area 5th graders. If you would like to try your hand at writing an ekphrastic poem, head over to the Arts Center and visit the Social STUDIO to get the prompt. While you are there, look for the works of art that inspired some of the poems in the exhibition, In the Adjacent Possible.

Poetry by Post: On View at Mead Library until May 30, 2021

Poetry by Post

To celebrate National Poetry Month in April, I wanted to get poems directly into the hands of people of all ages in our community. Mead Library posted an invitation on Facebook for people to sign up and receive a poem from the poet laureate. Over a two-week period, 167 hand-written poems were sent to people throughout Sheboygan County, and a few went farther: Madison, Chicago, Phoenix, and one poem all the way to Esslingen, Germany. (Just to be clear, there were not 167 different poems! I had a batch of about 20 that I worked with.) When sending out the poems, I gave people the option to add their reactions by drawing or adding collage elements in the margins of the page, with the hope that we would get enough “poem-art” to do a display. I was thrilled when artwork started to come back and so grateful to the Library for providing a space to share these collaborations. Thank you to everyone who participated! The poem-art is on view until May 30, 2021. 

Angel Bartelt                                       Maggie Quinn
Brynnin Beyer                                    Brayden Scheuren
Amelia Caracoza                               Lailah Shircel
Pa Chia Cha                                        Ellery Soetaert
Kenly Chang                                      Farah Soetaert
Toriana Elliott                                   Evn Steiner                                              

Taylor Gahagan                                 Zac Thao
Trinity Her                                          Rosanne Thompson
Arabella Kennedy                             Owen Vihos-Hoover
Madison Lukaszewski                      Gabby Vue
Maizy Lintereur                                 Jonathan Wirth                           

Ella Mazurek                                      Olivia Xiong
Illia Mazurek                                      Scarlett G. Xiong
Ann Miller                                          Noel Yang 
Miles Ottman                                    Michelle Zschetzsche
Lily Peterson                                     Mary Koczan

Poetry on Air

This is an ongoing collaboration with Mead Library. Every few weeks, I interview a poet (or poetry lover) to learn what poetry has inspired them. We talk about the meaning and power of poetry, poetic practice, and the craft itself. Season 1 is going well and I look forward to continuing this in 2022 and growing the program. Some day, it may even graduate from being a podcast to be a real, live radio show! All the programs recorded so far are available on the Mead Community Radio page. 

Lilongwe Reading Garden Project

The idea for the reading garden began as a dream in the minds of a group of talented and visionary educators who came from Malawi to Sheboygan, WI in 2014-2016. They came to Lakeland University to pursue Masters degrees in early grade reading instruction. They experienced a magical place in Sheboygan called Bookworm Gardens, an interactive reading garden where children (and their adults) can read and dream together in an imaginative setting.

Through a long chain of circumstances, I was inspired by their vision and ultimately able to obtain a Time-Out Grant in 2016 from my undergraduate alma mater, Vassar College. I traveled to Malawi for the first time in August of that year, and the planning process began. We had the location: the Lilongwe Teacher Training College and Demonstration School. We also had a little bit of seed money thanks to the Vassar funds, as well as funds raised through First Congregational Church in Sheboygan.

Article in Sheboygan Press

After much hard work and assistance from people in both the US and Malawi, the construction of the garden began in the fall of 2017. Some structures (an archway, a book sculpture, pathways, and seating) were built and the school began to use the space as a place for reading and play. More recently, the project is shifting and in 2021, the school is looking into the option of using the funds still remaining to create an indoor library. If you are interested in learning more about the project and how you can help make it grow, please contact Lisa at (US).

UPDATE in 2021: After a long break in the project, the dreamed-of library is becoming a reality. More photos to come!


100 Thousand Poets for Change

IMG_0440The worldwide movement to promote peace, justice and sustainability through poetry began in early 2011. At that time, the founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion put out the call to poets everywhere to stand up and organize poetry events  in their respective communities to support positive change. Beginning in 2011 and every year since then,  on the last Saturday of September, poets all over the US and all over the world  have done exactly that. I am honored to say that I’ve made sure we do an event in Sheboygan every year. We had our 8th event on September 29, 2018. It was especially great, because for the first time ever, I decided to have a theme for the event, and I invited people to share poems about migration, immigration, and movement of cultures through time and space. The result was amazing. So amazing that I teamed up with Dawn Hogue at Water’s Edge Press and we produced a book from the reading (along with dozens of additional poems we collected) called From Everywhere a Little: A Migration Anthology.  You can purchase the book at Water’s Edge Press website. And, watch for the next round of 100 Thousand Poets for Change events coming  to a city near you in 2022.