Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate asks, Why Poetry?

Humanities Programs in Focus, Voices from the Field | September 28, 2017 | By:

On Poetry and Memory

by Karla Huston

I never saw a Purple Cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one

Those lines are from a poem by Gelett Burgess. It is a poem I remember my father reciting to me when I was a child.  I remember imagining that purple cow mooing through my past, swishing her purple tail.

I’m more serious about poetry now. Read More

Grants 101: Be Good, Be Brief, and…

Tips for Grant Writers | December 2, 2015 | By:


Be Good, Be Brief, and…Be Gone, a board member of the historical museum I once directed used to advise me.  A retired corporate executive and the organization’s treasurer, he was fond of dispensing aphorisms with a wink in his eye.  He taught me, a graduate student with more words than available pages, the importance of a one-page memo.  He taught me how to get to the point.

One challenge of writing a strong grant proposal is Read More

Getting to know Lorine in her World

Humanities Programs in Focus | October 7, 2015 | By:

Header graphic mural combo

Increasingly, Lorine Niedecker is known around town. A mural featuring a line from one of her poems greets drivers heading into Fort Atkinson on HWY 12. 

The line, taken from Paean to Place, is also the opening of a chapbook called ‘Along the River’ that was published by her fans and followers after Niedecker’s death. Better known outside Wisconsin than in her home state, it is now, 45 years after her death, that she is becoming a home-town hero. Read More

“Poet’s Work” & the Lorine Niedecker Festival

Humanities Programs in Focus | October 1, 2014 | By:


by Lorine Niedecker


   advised me:

      Learn a trade

I learned 

   to sit at desk

      and condense

No layoff

   from this



Lorine Niedecker was born in 1903 on Blackhawk Island near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. During her lifetime, Lorine was not well-known as a poet in her community. Margot Peters, who wrote a 2011 biography of the poet, says Lorine preferred it that way. Four books of her poetry were published before her death in 1970, along with many poems in literary magazines. Long admired by her poetic peers, Lorine Niedecker’s reputation as a major twentieth-century poet has expanded since her death with the publication of her collected works and two editions of correspondence. Read More

The Sense in Nonsense

Humanities Programs in Focus | August 6, 2014 | By:

by Karl Elder and published on Humanities Booyah as part of a series of essays about a life-altering encounter with the humanities.

Big sky full of cloud and a man looking up

“Would humans have made it to the moon without a language that allows a cow to leap over that moon in the imagination? No way!”

Here’s a ton of fun, an anonymous traditional poem for children, for the kid in the rest of us, and in memory of my father, Ted:

Nonsense Song
It was midnight on the ocean;
Not a street car was in sight.
The sun was shining brightly,
And it rained all day that night.

‘Twas a summer’s night in winter
And the rain was snowing fast.
A barefoot boy with shoes on
Stood sitting on the grass.

The rain was pouring down,
The moon was shining bright,
And everything that you could see
Was hidden out of sight.

It was evening and the rising sun
Was setting in the West.
The little fishes in the trees
Were huddled in their nest.

While the organ peeled potatoes,
Lard was rendered by the choir.
While the sexton rang the dish rag,
Someone set the church on fire.

“Holy Smoke,” the preacher shouted,
And in the rush he lost his hair.
Now his head resembles heaven,
For there is no parting there.

I saw a great, big, tiny house
Ten thousand miles away.
And to my view ‘twas out of sight
Last night, the other day.

The walls projected inward,
The front door round the back.
Alone it stood between two more.
The walls were whitewashed black.

Read More

What does pie have to do with poetry?

Humanities Programs in Focus | April 2, 2014 | By:

Max Garland, Poet Laureate, giving a reading

Photos by Amanda E. Shilling. © 2014 by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

Making a living is important, but making life worth living is an art.

-Max Garland, Wisconsin’s current (and fifth) Poet Laureate.

In his first year as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Max put over 10,800 miles on his 2005 Toyota Corolla traveling the state.  He says he now has a better appreciation for the number of writers, artists and supporters of the arts and humanities that truly welcome his offerings.  Poetry’s popularity, he feels, is fueled by the belief that it is a vital part of keeping humanity afloat in the tsunami of sales pitches, sound bites and political spins. We look to poetry to express ourselves in ways that text messages and emoticons cannot.  Having a balanced budget is good, but a balanced life is a better measure of wealth, Max believes.

After one of his appearances, he drove away following what turned out to be the wrong car in search of his lodging in the Baraboo Hills.  It was close to midnight when he realized his error, so the driver he had been following graciously invited him into her home.   “Honey – ” the woman called  to her husband as they entered the house,  ” – if you’re still watching TV in your underwear, put on some pants.  I’ve got the Poet Laureate of Wisconsin here!”

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