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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin people & ideas
Volume 52, Number 2 (Spring 2006)

Upfront,   pp. 4-12


Page 6

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Poets, Come Spring and Fall 
The next gathering is April 21-22 in Door County 
Like arrows ofgeese, poets from all over Wisconsin      washes her face with
her paws... 
flocked to Kohler's Inn on Woodlake for the Wisconsin    Outside, a wind
is blowing the leaves about. 
Fellowship of Poets' annual fall conference last November. For  The universe
we once thought steady-state 
a few short hours, we came together to share the "shadowy  is flying
apart." 
sprites of words that cast their nets/to capture minds and  From "Dynamical
Systems " by Robin Chapman, Madison 
spirits and hold them fast" (from "Here's to Words" by Barbara
Larsen, Sister Bay).                                   As if to echo Chapman's
poem, the conference threatened to 
Nearly 110 people navigated registration, the Friday night  fly apart when
main speaker Kathleen Blaeser, a Native 
poetry reading, and a couple of business meetings before  American poet (Anishinaabe),
could not give her "Natural 
settling in for the traditional Saturday morning "roll call"  Poet"
workshop due to a death in her family. But leave it to 
reading. We sat in clusters around tables, reveling in the  poets to hold
things together. Fellowship membership chair 
stream of images and syncopated rhythms. Where else could  Peter Piaskoski
and Wisconsin's first poet laureate, Ellen Kort, 
one go to tap into the poetry pulse of Wisconsin?    gave up their comfortable
seats in the audience to lead the 
The poems ranged in feeling and theme from angry to awed:  group in a similar
"leafy" vein. 
"I regret to inform you...                          Piaskoski wove the
nature ethics of the Lakota tribe, Aldo 
that I've brought you a flag an American flag     Leopold, and Thornton Wilder,
like living vines, into a strong 
carefully folded into the shape of your son's name..."  skein of meaning.
Gently tended by Kort, by the end of the 
From '7 regret to inform you... " by Ellen Kort, Appleton  workshop
everyone had drawn a tree, naming those who have 
nourished them in the roots and labeling the branches with 
"It's a miracle how the Bed                       the names of those
they have nourished. We each chose one 
nestles us safely                                 of those names and wrote
whatever came to mind, planting 
a third of our lives                              new feelings and phrases
for poems. 
as the eight-thousand-mile-thick earth              Surrounded by such a
forest of support, I, a first-time 
beneath us twirls..."                             conference participant,
felt uplifted, though also a bit over- 
From "A Miracle" by CharylK. Zehfus, Sheboygan    whelmed. One
could be impressed by the breadth of 
expressions, yet realize, with a jolt, that a few of the well- 
From humorous to heartbreaking:                     polished gems of others
were so similar to some of one's own 
"The fish are at it again,                        attempts it seemed
time to move on to a new angle or subject. 
I turn and see them rising                          Actually, it was interesting
to note how certain ideas seemed 
out of the aquarium, swimming                    to recur to poets from different
places, as if some verses are 
through the livingroom ..."                      floating in the air.
Despite the distance from Superior to 
From "Recurring Dream" by Sarah Gilbert, Appleton  Kenosha, or
La Crosse to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin poets 
remain connected by the oxygen of ideas we share. 
I never saw her again.                           Many of us will join the
Fellowship again at the spring 
She died on the Saint Nick's eve that followed,   conference April 21-22
at the Landmark Resort in Door 
I was quarantined with the measles                County. The group will
journey together "In Search of Voice" 
and could not journey up that gray cloud highway  with Iowa poet and teacher
Jan Weissmiller, who is known for 
to linger near her one last time  "               her NPR series, "Live
from Prairie Lights." A special perfor- 
From "My North Country Grandmother"               mance of Kristine
Thatcher's play, Niedecker (about poet 
by Jerry Hauser, De Pere                          Lorine Niedecker), will
be presented by the Third Avenue 
Playhouse of Sturgeon Bay. 
From sassy to sublime:                                Like the "Little
Bird" in "Pajarito" by JoAnn Chang of 
"He was the boy, kindergarten savage,             Milwaukee, "Tu
corazon/es la boca abierta/de un pajarito/que 
who chased me with a garter snake,                siempre tiene hambre..."
as I fled breathless to the house ..."              Or, in English:
"Your heart/is the open mouth/of a little 
From "Snips and Snails" by Joey Wojtusik, Three Lakes  bird,/always
hungry." 
Our hearts are always hungry-for poetry. 
"What's not changing in time? 
The glass in the window pane                                            
            by Charyl K. Zehfus 
sags slowly, the sunlight 
streams through the glass, the cat                      For more information,
visit http://www.wfop.org 
m   I! I !I  I!I  !III  !0 


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