If the weather is more like winter solstice, meet inside the restaurant. For more information about the reading, contact Matt Seigel (email@example.com) or Erin Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) and check out http://composing.org/poetry/ for upcoming events.
On the above Web site, the collection of posters announcing poetry readings is evidence that poets are alive and well in the Keweenaw community and that local cafés and restaurants have been welcoming them to read their work for several months. You don't have to be a poet to join them and listen, whether or not you drink coffee.
Teachers share poems at MTU workshop
A few weeks ago, in May, the Copper Country Reading Council and the Department of Humanities at Michigan Tech University hosted a free Poetry Celebration and Workshop for poets, teachers and community members in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center on campus. Participants read some of their own poetry or works by their favorite poets.
Evelyn Johnson, Copper Country Reading Council president and Michigan Tech University instructor in teacher education, welcomes participants to the Poetry Celebration and Workshop in the Walker Arts and Humanities Center on the MTU campus last month. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Julie Antilla, who teaches Advanced Placement English to seniors at Houghton High School, read poems by three of her students, who recently graduated: Daniel Woodford, Emily Van Dam and Minori Wisti. Keweenaw Now requested permission to publish Ms. Wisti's poem, "What is Poetry?" We received the permission and share it here with our readers:
"What is Poetry?" by Minori Wisti
Poetry is not you; it is not me
this is not poetry
Poetry is an angry mob,
a whittled sob.
A paper plane;
salt and pepper,
a movie star,
a loney leper.
Poetry is taking flight
Poetry is losing sight
and stealing it back again
Poetry is a bipolar friend.
Poetry is ugly, stupid,
insufficient in its home.
It hates me, slaps me
in the face and leaves me
standing all alone.
And then it turns its clever head
to put me on a pedestal
Poetry is what I eat
because poetry is edible.
Poetry is standing up
and making it okay
to take "the road less traveled by"
or sing out loud all day.
But none of this is poetry.
Poetry has no definition
If poetry were confined to these
where do you think our minds would be?
We certainly would not be free.
Minori Wisti graduated from Houghton High on May 25, 2008. She plans to attend the University of Michigan and to study creative writing.
Julie Antilla, Houghton High School teacher of English, reads poems written by some of her students during the Poetry Celebration and Workshop at Michigan Tech in May. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Another one of Antilla's students, Cutter Hurst, attended the workshop and read one of his original poems.
At the MTU workshop, Evelyn Johnson, Copper Country Reading Council president and MTU instructor in teacher education, along with faculty from the MTU Humanities Department, invited local teachers to share ideas on teaching poetry. Several of the participants joined in a discussion of whether the inspiration to write is natural.
Evelyn Johnson reads a poem by Debbie Mues, a CLK (Calumet) teacher and artist who was unable to attend the workshop. Also pictured is Jane de Martini a Tamarack City resident, who later read a selection from Billy Collins, American poet laureate. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
"All people are inherently creative," Evelyn Johnson said.
She noted students can be nurtured with reading and playing with language.
For Randy Freisinger, award-winning poet and professor of English in the MTU Humanities Department, the pleasures of poetry begin in elementary school. He emphasized the "play" aspects of poetry.
"Writing," Freisinger said, "is really playing with some of the ingredients of a poem."
Randy Freisinger, award-winning poet and MTU Humanities professor, reads his poem, "Cursing the Death," winner of a Reader's Choice award. The poem is about deaf children who visited his school when he was a teenager. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Freisinger said poetry includes the pleasure of song and dance -- a poem finding its own rhythm, its own voice. He said writing poetry gives one the pleasure of connecting with the reader as well as the pleasure of surprise for oneself.
"I wouldn't write if it weren't going to hold surprise for me," he explained.
He read his recent, award-winning poem, "Cursing the Death," a memory of deaf children visiting his school when he was a teenager, and also a Chinese poem from the ninth century, "Madly Singing in the Mountains."
Ciro Sandoval, MTU professor of Spanish, read, in translation, selections from poetry by Nicanor Parra, a mathematician and poet of Chile, and Nicolás Guillén, an Afro-Cuban poet.
Poems of Pablo Neruda, Anne Sexton and Rainer Maria Rilke were the favorites that Robert Johnson, Humanities Department Chair, selected to read at the event.
Robert Johnson, MTU Humanities Department Chair, reads selections from some of his favorite poems at the poetry workshop. These included Pablo Neruda's "Ode to Common Things," "Ode to an Artichoke" and "Ode to French Fries." (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Veronica Horning, a teacher from Carmen Ainsworth High School in Flint, Mich., now on child care leave in Houghton, discussed how she gets her students interested in poetry. First she assigns them a research project in which they choose a poet from a list, do research on the poet and put together a Power Point presentation on the poet for the class.
Veronica Horning, an English teacher from Carmen Ainsworth High School in Flint, presents her methodology for teaching poetry during the poetry workshop at MTU last May. Pictured at left is Evelyn Johnson, Copper Country Reading Council president and MTU instructor in teacher education. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Several community members also attended the workshop and read their own poems or selections from favorite poets.
Tom Blessing of Calumet reads one of his own poems during the poetry workshop at MTU in May. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
"It's delightful to find the creative talent in this northwoods pocket," said Paula Thomas, a journalist and poet who is a seasonal resident of Calumet and Sacramento, Calif.
Thomas read two of her own poems, "One Moment, which she wrote while traveling in London, England, and "Selecting a Reader." Thomas is also writing a historical novel.
Paula Thomas, a journalist and poet from Calumet and Sacramento, Calif., reads two of her own poems during the MTU workshop. (Photo © 2008 Michele Bourdieu)
Jeff Juntunen, an MTU graduate from Hancock, also attended the event.
"I like writing," he said. "I'm glad I came."
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