5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Sylvia Cavanaugh and Ed Werstein

Two activist poets share their work.

Sylvia Cavanaugh

Sylvia Cavanaugh

Sylvia Cavanaugh teaches high school cultural studies and has advised breakdancers and poets. Her students are actively involved in the Sheboygan chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in various periodicals and anthologies and she is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry. Her third chapbook, Icarus: Anthropology of Addiction, is published by Water’s Edge Press.

Sample Poems

Shirley Jackson was My First Analyst

Even before I read The Lottery
in high school
my number was up
I had come to believe the only way
to pretend to be sane
would be to marry Daedalus after all
I understood the odds
stacked against women who began
as awkward introverted girls
Shirley laid out Eleanor Vance
as exhibit number one
in The Haunting of Hill House
when I was eight
and my mother took me too young
to see the film at the college campus
I learned that even mothers
smother in their bitterness
that to be alone is the real cold
dark of hell
that the underworld is not alight
with flame and crowded
in a shared camaraderie of misery
Shirley pressed upon me the danger
of my own mind looking back at itself
from the curved glass of a mirror
careening through off-kilter rooms
crafted by men
that some spaces I dare not enter
libraries and domestic scenes
most lethal
that the voice in my head
lost in a labyrinth
will be loud as a jackhammer
that my scream will be silent

The Labyrinth

What if the famed maze of Crete
were a tomb?
A signifier of death
in carefully crafted tile.
But there is sex, too,
of course.
Jeremiah bespoke entrapment
in the Aegean pagan partridge dance
come to nest in Canaan. 
Winged men spiraling outward
erotically hob-stepping
to the moon goddess.
Maybe the sun was jealous,
blazing down on the boy’s wax wings.
And what about addiction?
The way my husband would spin
a web of words,
linguistic dead ends
and illogic conclusions.
I wanted out with my mind intact.
So, I followed the golden thread
of words
in hushed percussion
nightly from my keyboard.
And what about the Minotaur?
Was he my husband,
or was he the addiction?
Why does he stay there
consuming maidens,
waiting to be slain?

Ed Werstein

Ed Werstein

Ed Werstein, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, is also the WFOP representative on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. Werstein was awarded the 2018 Lorine Niedecker Prize for Poetry by the Council For Wisconsin Writers. His work has appeared in Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, among other publications, and is forthcoming in Rosebud,. His 2018 book, A Tar Pit To Dye In, is available from Kelsay Books. His chapbook, Who Are We Then? was published in 2013 by Partisan Press. Find out more here:

Sample Poems

Headline Poem

Eight out of 10 of women have felt unable to cope in the past year
                                                                                    - Guardian Headline

So, I’m wondering,
who are the other two?
What’s their secret?
I’d like to learn some of their
coping strategies because, frankly,
I’m not coping too well myself.

Do they live on deserted islands?
Did they invest in one of those
sensory deprivation flotation booths
and never come out? Did one of them
shoot Harvey Weinstein? Set fire
to a Trump Tower? Was there
any alcohol involved?

If there was alcohol involved,
I’d like to know about it.


            “Time may be an abstraction, but it helps the days go by.”
                                                                                       - John Koethe

The last time I was with Lalo
we were sitting in his Santiago, Chile
living room watching a Pavarotti DVD
tears streaming down our faces
and into our beers.

I was thinking how terribly lucky we were
to be alive. I could tell by his tears
he was thinking the same thing.

And I was thinking how terribly certain
it was that eventually we would not be alive.
He was thinking the same thing. Nessun Dorma
sung with such passion will do that to you.

And now Lalo is dying, but then,
so am I, and just as certainly. Yet no one
would write the sentence: Ed is dying.

But who could say I’m dying any slower
than he? Who could say with certainty
that I will outlive him even though
his doctors have stopped treating him
and sent him home to die?

Some philosopher-physicists say that
all things just are. That time is an illusion
caused by our conscious sequential awareness
of what are discreet moments of being.
Everything just is.

Maybe Lalo and I are sitting on that couch
salting our beers somewhen right now.

What does now even mean if time is an illusion?
We’re born, we’re living, we’re dead.
We’re laughing, crying, singing, drinking. All now.

Five years, or fifty
or five-hundred.
And what if it were five-hundred?
It’s still just one big lucky chance
to live, to love, to be, and then not be.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Featured Poets Nancy Austin & James A. Gollata

Two award-winning poets.

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James A. Gollata's minimalist poetry has appeared in several journals, including Modern Haiku and Howling Dog. His "In Viaggio" won First Place in "The Muse Prize" from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets in 2018. In the same year his work appeared in the anthologies Trace: Art and Poetry Collaborative, and Last Call: The Anthology of Beer, Wine & Spirits Poetry.

Sample Poem

In Viaggio

Who was that dark-haired
Diminutive guide
Who led us down alley and aisle?
We trailed her angelic white cape
As we would a beacon, Followed
Her every gesture.
What was the name of that
Sainte of virginal memory
Who gave her finger to God?
The digit we saw in the glass case
In that chapel in Roma, Forever
Thumbing its way to heaven.
Remember that beautiful
Begging woman who sat on the steps
Outside the church?
The one who held her swaddled bundle
In postpartum pretense, As she
Looked up, her hand held out to us
The voice that she used to call
For alms, The most mournful sound
That anyone could ever bear.

— James A. Gollata.

In Viaggio: (Italian). "In Passing," as in traveling through a place, experiences, etc. First Place "The Muse Prize," awarded by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets in 2018.

Nancy Austin.jpg

Nancy Austin was born in Whitefish Bay, WI, has lived on both coasts, but prefers the land between. She relishes time to write in the Northwoods. Austin’s work has appeared in journals such as Adanna, Ariel, Gyroscope Review, Midwestern Gothic, Portage Magazine, Verse Wisconsin, Writer’s Resist, Wisconsin Poets Calendars and Zingara Poetry Review. She has collections titled Remnants of Warmth (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2016),The Turn of the Tiller; the Spill of the Wind (Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books, 2019), and a collaboration anthology with the PaperBirch Poets called Stitching Earth to Sky (Water’s Edge Press, 2019).

Sample Poem

The Secrets of Trees

Three birch trees stand in a cluster, lend contrast to the forest,
cast catkins to the playful vole, the red squirrel.
Three birch trees rooted together, black on white bark
easily stripped, bent and sewn into service.

One tree is courted by a woodpecker, pileated, powerful,
he whittles and riddles her slender trunk with holes
that drain her sap wells but draw sips from tiny acrobats
that hum, hover and flash jewels to bless her.

The middle tree lacked sunlight, grew slowly as others soared.
Afforded a view like no other, her barren, leafless canopy
extends jazz hands to the spirited sky, sun and gypsy clouds—
wonders that outweigh the shadow-talk of cutting her down.

The third tree’s flesh is pulled in opposite directions by three
metal feeders laden with seed that swing from brackets nailed
to her trunk, but elicit trills of orioles and chipping sparrows,
and the thrill of a thousand feet and feathers.

Three birch trees stand rooted in amity, share unspoken secrets.
Rest comes when darkness drives away suitors, limbs entwined
like sleeping sisters that rouse at the other’s sudden shiver.
They lean in, hold each other up, sorelle per sempre.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Event


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A one-night-only event featuring Andrew Linskens (the painter) and Nathan J. Reid (the poet), who will merge artistic energies to create a unique, memorable multi-media experience.

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Andrew Linskens

Andrew has been creating artistic magic for over 15 years. Andrew graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in graphic design and fine arts. An award winning artist, Andrew is extremely talented. His eclectic body of work ranges from 2D/3D animation, special effects, cinematography, editing and post production to illustration, sculpture and painting.


Nathan J. Reid is a spoken word poet whose work has appeared in several publications, including Bramble Lit Magazine and Wisconsin People & Ideas. He is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, board member for the Council for Wisconsin Writers, former senior editor for the Wisconsin Review, and host of The Reid Poetry Hour (an annual show) on WORT 89.9 FM. His collection, Thoughts on Tonight, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press and his full-length collection, Persistence of Perception, will be released in 2020. This September, he will be curating and emceeing The Constitutional Cabaret at The Draw, in Appleton, a poetry performance put on in partnership with Poetry Unlocked. Learn more about him at

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Cathryn Cofell & Karla Huston

Two of Wisconsin’s leading poet advocates share their work. Karla was also Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate 2017 - 2018.

Cathryn Cofell

Cathryn Cofell

Cathryn Cofell is an Appleton poet with seven books of poetry, including a full-length collection called Sister Satellite and a poetry/music CD called Lip. Her poems and essays have been published in over 300 journals and anthologies and have earned over 50 awards including the Lorine Niedecker Prize and the Mill Poetry Prize. She is a passionate advocate for the arts, helping to launch the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and its endowment fund, the literary journal Verse Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poetry Chapbook Prize and the Poetry Unlocked reading series.

Sample Poem

Bad Stamp

I stuck the Statue of Liberty upside down.
At first I didn’t see the mistake—
like that block of wood that says gibberish
until you cross your eyes and slowly Jesus
appears and then all you see is Jesus Jesus
—and now it’s too late to pull back. 
Why didn’t the stamp makers give her
direction?  No numbers, no This End Up,
just the copper-blue broad on a wavy red bed. 
Envelope after envelope I stuck it to her,
and now that I finally see what I’ve done
I can’t stop staring her down—
that one-armed handstand, that dress
so close to collapsing over her head, that old
flame so close to catching the starched cloth,
starting her whole works on fire.

She could have been a choirgirl, an astronaut,
an artery of the heart; it’s unpatriotic,
how we let ourselves be this distracted,
how we let our free will run free.  Even now
I can’t stop messing with her.  I tip her
on her side and here she is anew,
more mermaid than symbol of democracy— 
yes, a mermaid in a sea of starfish, 
dozens of white starfish feeding in rows,
she side-stroking gracefully toward them,
to join them for a picnic on a billowing
checkered cloth.  But no,
not join them, not Lady Liberty.  She
gathers them in, kisses their small cheeks,
tongues them like white-chocolate truffles.
Gobbles each lulled star. And after? 
She swims on.  She remains first class, 
her lips glossed with blood,
her body lit with flame, Jesus Jesus
what have we done?

 — Previously published in New York Quarterly

Karla Huston (COURTESY: Mike Roemer)

Karla Huston (COURTESY: Mike Roemer)

Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018) and the author of A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag: 2013) as well as 8 chapbooks of poetry including Grief Bone (Five-Oaks Press: 2017). Her poems, reviews and interviews have been published widely, including the 2012 Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology. She teaches poetry writing at The Mill: A Place for Writers in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Sample Poems


For Easter each spring, Doerflinger’s
sold canaries, cages suspended 
from the pillars of first floor, from where they 
looked over handbags and fake pearls, bars 
of chocolates and plumed hats, men’s socks 
folded into pairs. The morning the heat 
went out, the janitor found the air 
quiet, the birds on their backs and silent, 
feet clutched in small eighth notes.  
He took them to the alley and dumped them 
like so much dust. Later when the sun 
thawed the air, the birds, some of them, 
called from under tissue leaves and branches 
of cardboard. Inside again, the singing ones, 
their throats warmed with drops of brandy, 
chirruped to the showers of snow outside, 
and even shadows vibrated with yellow, 
those voices praising bonnets of flowers 
and Arrow shirts, both arms crossed in front.

Mannequins in Storage

They stare from where they are left,
each standing on a chrome pole,
leaning on each other for balance

on the tilting wooden floor.
When no one is around,
they gather broken arms

and chipped fingers, try to assemble
better versions of themselves
so whenever the freight elevator

drags its chains and begins
its slow pull or the moon outside
lowers itself for a long look

the mannequins stop their collecting.
Some, with hips cocked left, some right,
some with toes pointing backwards,

one with its lone arm reaching.
All of them with hard lips pursed, eyes
looking everywhere at once.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Ron Czerwien

Ron shares poetry from his recent collection published by Bent Paddle Press.

Ron Czerwien

Ron Czerwien

Ron Czerwien graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a BA in English in 1973. In 1993 he purchased Avol’s Bookstore in Madison. 

For many years Ron hosted poetry readings and open mics at Avol’s and at different venues in Madison. Ron’s poems have appeared online and in a number of print journals. His manuscript, "The Office of Uncomfortable Admissions," received an honorable mention in the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Contest. He is the author of the chapbook, “A Ragged Tear Down The Middle Of Our Flag,” published in 2017 by locofo chaps, an imprint of Moria Books. His new chapbook, “a little rain, a little more,” was published in 2018 by Bent Paddle Press. 

These days Ron continues to sell used and out-of-print books on the internet under the name Avol’s Books, LLC and he serves on the board of The Council for Wisconsin Writers. In his free time Ron creates collages that combine old advertising images and appropriated text to amuse his friends. Some of these can be seen on his Instagram account @czerwienron.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring C. Kubasta & Tom Erickson

Two award-winning poets sharing their latest work.

C. Kubasta

C. Kubasta

C. Kubasta writes poetry, prose & hybrid forms. Her favorite rejection (so far) noted that one editor loved her work, and the other hated it.  She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, the full-length collections, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX) and Of Covenants (Whitepoint Press), and the novella Girling (Brain Mill Press). Her novel This Business of the Flesh is newly out from Apprentice House. She teaches literature, writing & cultural studies at Marian University, where she is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and works with Brain Mill Press. Find her at Follow her @CKubastathePoet.

Sample Poem

On Being a Midwestern Poet

Because he spends tens of minutes
complimenting your work –your sharp lines & incongruous images, uses
words like “deft,” then wonders
how anyone can live there, comments how there’s
no culture, nothing
to write about. Tu quoque. It is about

more than line, more than ink. It is about how that ink
settles into skin. Skin is different than paper – it shifts, settles,
ages. Argumentum ad lapidem. You can feel

your vowels spreading, the idioms peppering
your reply, hoping he
won’t be able to follow. You remind him
you live there. “Yes,” he says, “but you left.” Post hoc

ergo propter hoc. Contextomy. And
returned. By choice. These are my people.

Here. Where our only elevations
are septic mounds or reclaimed landfills beyond
the perimeter of town
where as children we learned
speed, fear, exhilaration. Argumentum ad antiquitatem. And

they are always named “Garbage Hill.” Each town

has one. The way each town
has one of me, sitting in the local bar, like the strange rock
found picking the fields, brought home
for its unusual color, or the impression that may be a fossil
identified some future day when it will be shown to the local extension agent. Celebrated
or tolerated, some local color, rarely
read. Argumentum ex silentio. The way the smell

of the ethanol plant is first welcomed, uncannily like syrup, but then

turns the stomach. But each of these houses can still be breached
through the forgotten milk box (if you can fit), or maybe
the coal chute.

This is something we criminals know. Ad hominem. We adult children
of these places we call home.

Tom Erickson

Tom Erickson

Thomas J. Erickson grew up in Kohler, Wisconsin.  He received a Bachelor of Arts in English Composition from Beloit College and a law degree from Marquette University.  He is an attorney in Milwaukee, where he is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets.  His award-winning chapbook, “The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom” was published by Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin Libraries in 2013.  His full length poetry book, “The Biology of Consciousness”, was published in 2016 by Pebblebrook Press.  His chapbook, “Hailstorm Interlude”, will be published in the fall of 2018 by Finishing Line Press.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.  He lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Daphne, and  is the proud father of Charles and John.

Sample Poem

In an Empty Courtroom                                                                    

To my surprise, no one’s around.                                                      
The bailiffs are getting the prisoner  
from the jail; the clerk’s in the back                          
somewhere; the judge still at lunch.

The defense table is skirted with heavy black cloth
to prevent the jury from seeing
the defendant shackled to the iron rings
cemented to the floor.

The clerk’s station is adorned
with a few withering plants. On the wall
is a portrait of a long-dead judge gazing down
on me with bored benevolence.

I run my hand the length of the polished wood
in front of the jury box. Looking up,
I can see the scattershot of dead bugs
in the big light fixtures suspended
like dim globes about to fall.

I take the witness stand and look out
at the empty gallery and wonder what
to say or whom to answer. I wonder too
about the time I have spent in this room
and the representations I have made—
of my clients and of myself.

Someday, surely, this courtroom will shutter,
this place of deliberation and whim,
of bondage or freedom. A shell
and a citadel. And now, a place, for me,
of a sudden discordant contentment.

Who will be the very last  
to be judged here? 

What did he do?
What did they say he did?

Who will be me?

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes & Stephen Kalmar II

Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes

Carol Lee Saffioti Hughes

Poetry is my 911.  I am a retired professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside; have been  a librarian in a log cabin in the north woods, and a volunteer EMT—but I have always been a poet.  I have poetry, literary analysis, and research  published in three countries and languages.  I served as the advisor for the Native student organization, Sacred Circle, at UW-Parkside while teaching there.  

Over 100 of my pieces have been individually  published, including in The Malahat Review in Canada, The Greensboro Review in North Carolina, Nutshell in England, Root River Voices in the annual and collective publications.  My work is also in the anthology, Unsettling America, published by Penguin Books, New York.  A member of the Root River Poets and the Spectrum School of the Arts and Gallery in Racine, I am a photographer and have always believed in nurturing creative energies in grass roots community initiatives with both children and adults.  My chapbook, The Lost Italian and the Sound of Words, is always distributed to audiences for free, with the opportunity to explain its background and emergence. Another is in progress.

Sample Poem

Not much goes to waste up here
the corn we can't eat--
20 rows more than we can use--
goes to rabbits, voles, birds, pine squirrels.
the voles sometimes go to the hawks and the barn owl.
some of the rabbits
are too young to know:
don't go sunning out from under the pines too far--
leap too late from those shadows overhead
and dark on snow will be the last thing you see.

Scraps from the turkeys and chickens
wind up in the coyote hang-out--
we try to help them along
hoping they will leave the rabbits alone
but we know nightfall
brings the round-up howls.
most people can't tell a coyote from a wolf
but you learn.

Sometimes we notice the matted blood in the snow
under the birdfeeder:
a couple of rabbits short by the end of a week
when single digit nights sinking below zero
make us a little crazy too

The tracks change with the weather
and the mood of the coyotes:
even first young of a rabbit year
can do a three foot landing in clear snow--
we've seen them do it in mid-day sun.

As for the pine squirrels--
let's just say there is a difference of opinion
in the household.
one of us says they're just another critter to feed.
the other, well,
the rifle in the back hall is loaded for a reason:
was it Hemingway who said
if a gun shows up in a story
it has to fire?

Stephen Kalmar II

Stephen Kalmar II

stephen kalmar II grew biggest north of Toronto, Canada. Began writing and publishing while a teen. In 1977 he joined the Root River Poets writers consortium; current byline of moderator. After service, he returned to Racine to study Philosophy, Creative Writing, Speling and web design at UW Parkside.

Has worked as editor of poetry anthologies, published handfuls of his work in newsprint, books, academic and listing journals. Has given hundreds of publics readings, some invited. With his children has acted in theater on stage, radio and television. In 2011, was named a Racine Poets Laureate. Spends his time judging poetry contests, providing writing workshops and now annoying his juniors. Most of all, knows a good piece of writing when he sees it and feels at his advanced age the right to say so.

In real life works with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, so be extra nice to kids when he is around.

Sample Poems

Hunting Time 

I envy you your voice, more than ever.

Can you teach me it?

Or better, trade it for something that has value to the both of us?

Maybe I can give you a little more summer, barter away the winter that stokes MY heart?

Rain instead of ice?

Flip-flops (or sensible shoes) instead of full-rubber galoshes, holes poked with duct tape?

More flowers, fewer snow balls.

I’ll take your marketing calls from your flip-phone and respond directly when they stop to breathe.

I’d even hold a mirror to your minister, that one that shakes your head but refuses to leave it,

the surface so slick that she slides to the ground without leaving a path and you can tisk-tisk

as you walk over her, stepping heavy enough and she has to look up to know it’s you.

or think of something that would be an even trade for your vision: we can’t just switch spectacles, right?


Ok Ok, I get it. You know you and you like it, clasp your with both two hands.

Right where it is

Can we share?

Bring in that harvest?

We did do once and can find this winter apple again


Not too late. It’s October Now. A Red Moon. That casts.


How about if we just stand in the fall and watch the sky for signs of poems?

we could even set-up a tree stand, fresh game scent and pack in some of that Ale that you like

I’d have my hot-spiced tea and you your near ice cold brew.

Just as long as neither of us twitch, recoil, makes a song lest we frighten them away.


 there is this swimmer
in the lane next to me
his waves reach the pools edge
lengths before any one 

he’s strong stroke
enjoys the lane marker
and the fact that
 his line

no matter how buffeted
they twist roll bob spin

 never go under
well, not all the way

 he didn’t flail
on his turns

yet, wasn’t graceful
he flopped
and dripped
and pulled at his suit
like the rest of us

 ya know,
seems he always swam
in a single direction…

 when he said to me
“you people”,
he had no regrets
no misunderstanding
about it’s rightness
puddled on the floor

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5:00 PM17:00

Poetry Reading

Catching Snowflakes on Your Tongue


Featuring Jeanie Tomasko, Steve Tomasko, Ralph Murre & Sharon Auberle (Poet Laureate of Door County)

** Unusual Day | Earlier Time **

Sharon Auberle

Sharon Auberle is the author of seven books, four of which are collaboratipns with other poets.  Most recent is Dovetail, art and ekphrastic poetry with Jeanie Tomasko.  A Pushcart Prize Nominee, Auberle is currently honored to be serving as Door County's Poet Laureate.

Ralph Murre

Ralph Murre thought that fixtures were just for plumbing, but finds that he has become a fixture of the Door County poetry scene.  He has published several thin collections of his work.

Jeanie Tomasko

jeanie tomasko n. [g-knee tuh-mah-sco, origin: midwest]  : as in person, place or thing born and residing in Wisconsin a:  lover of autumn, dictionaries, lowercases, suitcases and horsing around b:  prone to brake for herons, coffee, novelty machines filled with shiny (M)adonnas, long periods of silence c:  makes a mean guacamole and occasionally enjoys dusting d:  married to steve tomasko who is responsible for all of the info at

Steve Tomasko

Steve Tomasko doesn’t fish as much, walk in the woods enough, or write as often as he should. At some point, Steve’s background in biology collided (hybridized?) with his long-time love of words, which is why nature and science often inhabit his poems. His first chapbook, “and no spiders were harmed” was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2015 and won first place in the WFOP Chapbook Contest in 2016. Find out more about Steve’s poetry (along with his wife, Jeanie’s poetry) at While there, you can also check out Bent Paddle Publishing and Design.


Sharon Auberle and Jeanie Tomasko collaborated on a poetry collection DOVETAIL. Read excerpts here:

A poem by Steve Tomasko was also featured in Bramble Winter 2018. Link here:

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Destinny Fletcher (“Deolinda Abstrac”) & Sue Blaustein

Destinny Fletcher

Destinny Fletcher

Destinny Fletcher, also known as “Deolinda Abstrac”: A woman with the power to create peace within her community and culture through the phenomenon in her voice. With Milwaukee, WI as her hometown, art becomes her sound and her greatest enigma. Working with the youth and young adults, Destinny experiences cultural differences, graphic stories, and revealing deliverance that she relates to heavily while writing stories inspired by her work and her life. She has worked as a High School Slam League Coach for Still Waters Collective and Mentor with Dasha Kelly from 2012 to 2016, became a 2012 State Poetry Slam Finalist as well as competed in 2013 LTAB (Louder Than a Bomb) College Team Slam. She self-published her first chapbook:

"Fireflies & Peroxide" in March of 2014 as a discovery of one’s own being in a world full of darkness and released her recent poetry collection, "Black Girl Be Storm" in May of 2016. She has also been an actress in Yetta Young's "Butterfly Confessions” stage play in Milwaukee in

November of 2015 & June of 2017 and “UNTAMED” in July & October of 2016 with Milwaukee's own community theater group, "MPower Theater". She has been an actress and collaborator in "UW-Milwaukee Women's Resource Center Presents: The Vagina Monologues" in February 2016 & 2017. She creates confidence and deliverance as a storytelling coach for Milwaukee's "ExFabula" and continues to rock stages among many cities she touches. From Turner Hall Ballroom to the Mod Club Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she has been performing her art all over the continent and soon... the world!

Sample Poem

The Stories She Tell

If my hair could tell stories
She would speak Volumes
Tidal waves through bridges that runeth over Curse the avalanche in her tongue
She will speak only in tongues
She will speak in the language she's from Disobey the melanin they claim her to be Spite the order they believe she can see If my hair could tell stories
She would spit fire at your feet
Ground your presence every time she speaks She speaks to me
Evolution Power Revolution Devour
My hair is a protest
A march between my curls A nation within my scalp
A flag launched within my naps If my hair could tell stories
She would show you the battle damage
Clip her striped ends and twist out her shouts She has never been straightened out
Been pulled and yanked but curly nonetheless Yes
She is beautiful Yes
She is Strong Yes
She is Woman
Foretell the secrets to her black
Prophesy her fortune between her parted seas The God she speaks
Greased and rough around her edges If my hair could tell stories
She would cry
Laugh until her follicles swayed together Frown with persistence in her tone
Smile while she grows Watch her grow Watch her glow Shimmer
Rewind the details and repeat her song My hair tells me stories
I will never stop listening

Published in “Black Girl Be Storm” 2016. Pg. 4. and Short Film selections.

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Sue Blaustein lives and writes in Milwaukee. In 2016, she retired from the Milwaukee Health Department, where she was a food safety inspector. Once retired, she completed the manuscript she’d worked on for some 18 years and published her book In the Field, Autobiography of an inspector. Poems in the book previously appeared in Wisconsin People and Ideas, Isotope, Verse Wisconsin, Mud Season Review, Blue Fifth Review, Kudzu Review and other publications. Sue is also a storyteller and active volunteer with Ex Fabula, the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center and the Zablocki VA Medical Center. More information can be found at

Sample Poem

It pleases my hands
to compare the weights
of bell-shaped sinkers, to
pass cast-metal blobs
          from right hand
to left. It soothes me
to squeeze the jaws
of split-shots and guide
transparent line
through golden swivels.
          You weaned me
from kiddie spinning rods
on the banks of the Rock River.
You showed me how to cast
with an open-face reel.
Drowsy from Hennessey
& Cherry Coke, I’d wind
back to childhood – 
to the front window of
Gray’s Hardware in Sussex, New Jersey. 
An amber sunshade colored
the fishing gear orange.
I got minnow nets
and clownish bobbers
for my little box. In the first
years, love stays liquid – warm
and close – like pond water
in July. Tackle boxes
are my museums
of contentment.  

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading



Featuring Nathan J. Reid


Featuring Nathan J. Reid

Nathan J. Reid

Nathan J. Reid

Spoken word poet Nathan J. Reid is a current resident of Madison, Wisconsin. His poetry is born out of a simple yet strong passion to strive for and share inner truth. Constantly rooting for the good in people, he explores aspects of human nature both sweet and bittersweet to create art that has an ultimately hopeful message. He believes the truth of one individual can ignite new truth in another, and that this process of sharing and discovering truth forwards the human condition in a direction that is positive, honest, and intelligent.

Nathan grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the youngest of five siblings (then gained two more brothers later on). He developed interests in writing and theatre at a young age. At fifteen years old he became a member of Eclectic Arts Ensemble Theatre Company (now Oshkosh Community Players), where he spent ten years acting, stage managing, directing, playwriting, set-building, and gaining experience in various other facets of the art form. His first national poetry  and prose publications came at the age of eighteen, within the same issue of Teen Ink Magazine. Since then his poems have appeared in the Binnacle, the Penguin Review, the Fox Cry Review, as well as other journals. In 2014, he was the featured spoken word artist for “HOME: A Group Art Exhibition” and a featured poet for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Poetry Reading Series. In 2015, he qualified for Madison’s National Poetry Slam Team and was also the guest spoken word artist for “Byzantium (the Fallen Empire)“, a Silversärk event.

His first book of poetry, Thoughts on Tonight, was published by Finishing Line Press in the fall of 2017.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Amanda Ngoho Reavey & Estella Lauter


Amanda Ngoho Reavey is a Philippine-born, Wisconsin-raised poet interested in how we can transform story and myth to reconnect ourselves to the earth. Her debut book, Marilyn (The Operating System, 2015), won the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies. Amanda’s poems and essays appear in Construction Literary Magazine, Anthropoid, TRUCK, and Evening Will Come, among others. 

Currently, Amanda is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and poetry fellow at Black Earth Institute. Through her project, RestoryNation, she teaches creative writing workshops that help participants rediscover their origin stories. She earned an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University.

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Since her retirement from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as Chair of the English Department, Estella has reveled in the writing community, publishing four chapbooks with Finishing Line Press (one of them in the New Women’s Voices series) and enjoying membership in three writing workshops.  Her poems have won awards from WFOP, the Wisconsin Writers Association, Fox Cry and the Peninsula Pulse.  She tied for first prize in the 2009 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry contest, and her work has been published in several literary journals, including Bramble, Midwest Review, Stoneboat, Free Verse, Verse Wisconsin and Wisconsin People and Ideas. Two poems were nominated for the Pushcart award. Poems have also appeared in several anthologies, including The Nature of Door, Sweeping Beauty, and Echolocations. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Door County for 2013-2015, during which time she founded the Door County Poets Collective to publish an anthology, Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015). She co-edited the 2017 Poets Calendar for WFOP with Francha Barnard on the theme of water. 

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1:00 PM13:00

Summer Poetry Festival


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The lazy days of summer were made for poetry and music.

Come experience Green Bay’s third annual SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL outside at The Reader’s Loft in London Alley on Saturday, July 28. Come any time between 1pm to 4pm. Or stay all day.

Featuring Sylvia Bowersox Trio, Tom Davis, Kathryn Gahl, Maryann Hurtt, Amy Phillips and Marilyn Zelke Windau

Sylvia Bowersox Trio
A provocative war poet & music ensemble

Tom Davis
A sonneteer with a resounding T.S. Eliot-like recitation style

Kathryn Gahl
Dancer, performance artist, lover-of-red lipstick, a witty poet not afraid to traverse the highs and lows of what life may throw at you

Maryann Hurtt & Marilyn Windau
Members of the Grand Avenue Collective and contributors to The Water Poems

Amy Phillips
Music teacher and local songwriter-musician with a little raconteur thrown in

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Al DeGenova & Barb Germiat

Albert DeGenova

Albert DeGenova

Albert DeGenova is an award-winning poet, publisher, and teacher.  He is the author of three books of poetry and three chapbooks.  His most recent book is, Black Pearl: poems of love, sex and regret, released in late 2016; his chapbook Postcards to Jack was recently re-released in a second expanded edition in late 2017. DeGenova is the founder and co-editor of After Hours magazine, a journal of Chicago writing and art, which launched in June of 2000.  He received his MFA from Spalding University in Louisville and leads several writing workshops throughout the year at WriteOn Door County and an annual writing week at The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay, WI.  He hosts the monthly Traveling Mollys reading series (Oak Park, IL) which is now in its 20th year.  He is also a blues saxophonist and one-time contributing editor to Down Beat magazine.  DeGenova splits his time between Sturgeon Bay, WI, and the metro Chicago area.

Sample Poems

Black Pearl

I hear a faraway cello
legato tone as long as life itself it seems –
the horsehair bow turns
on edge, the timbre winces
to the wind, to the thunder.
The Pacific reshapes miles of beach
overnight, sometimes in minutes.  Waves,
their sucking recoil, the salty tumult
teases me today
with nothing more than a bruised hip –
how dare I rest against a rock. 

From within the splashing crash
I hear a muffled baritone’s tempt, what
waits for you within the churning wave?
I’ve heard love sound like this.  My god
is not this heaving brute of sea, but a quiet
black pearl in the shell of my heart.
I feel the hair on my arm move as it dries,
the flies bite my ankles.  Too much love
in my one stormy life to ever deny god.

--Albert DeGenova

The night the wind

The night the wind left you on my doorstep
drenched, shivering with rain and tears
you carried a small brown paper bag
stuffed with toothbrush, underwear,
white silk nightgown
hasty luggage, narrow escape
night flight from a hospital.
Prison you called it
where they put you
because you bought a dog
and maybe a dog was a crazy friend to make
at this precarious point in your life
but did they need to lock you up
without phone, wine, or pills
or your daughters, or me, or
all the hims that haunted your
inability to say no.

The night the wind carried you through my door,
you stood in the middle of the living room
alone you stripped
naked, your wet clothes in a pile at your feet,
you let the nightgown cascade over you
arms above your head as if
standing in a waterfall, as if
you might be cleansed by white silk.
I watched from the doorway. Did you hear
my gasp, know my impotence? The wind
leaving you here tonight to unfurl
your madness, your whispers, you
gliding into your darkness,
sad white sails full.

--Albert DeGenova

Barb Germiat   

Barb Germiat


Barb is a Fox Valley poet. Her poetry has been published in WFOP Calendar, Fox Cry Literary Review, Portage, Creative Wisconsin Literary Journal, Appleton Post-Crescent, Sisters Today, St. Anthony Messenger, and elsewhere. She published a chapbook in 2017 Look, the Silence. 


I could comb Roget’s Thesaurus,
search the edges of my memory,
hunt for words to tell you how this snowfall
honeycombs the dome in which we breathe,
saturates the air with quiet crystals,
muffles customary noises.

Or I could whisper
the silence.

-- Barb Germiat

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Featuring Dustin Luke Nelson & Ashleigh Lambert

Dustin Luke Nelseon

Dustin Luke Nelseon

Dustin Luke Nelson is the author of the poetry collection "in the office hours of the polar vortex" (Robocup) and the chapbook “Abraham Lincoln” (Mondo Bummer). His poems have appeared in the Best American Experimental Writing, Fence Magazine, Paper Darts, the Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. His performance and video work includes STRIKE TWO (Gauss PDF, Washington Project for the Arts), APPLAUSE (Walker Art Center’s Open Field), and BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (Flux Factory). His videopoems and short films have appeared at the Filmpoem Festival, Short Film Biennial Ljubljana, Crane Arts (Philadelphia, PA), Altered Esthetics (Minneapolis, MN), the Washington Project for the Arts (Washington DC), O Miami Poetry Festival and elsewhere. Other writing has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Thrillist, Electric Literature, and the Rumpus, among other publications.

Ashleigh Lambert

Ashleigh Lambert

Ashleigh Lambert is the author of the chapbooks Ambivalent Amphibians (Dancing Girl Press) and The Debt or the Crisis (Doublecross Press). You can find her poems and reviews in Rain Taxi; Bone Bouquet; Forklift, Ohio; Diagram; and other places. She lives in Minneapolis.

Sample Poems


Until you slump and curl

your bones around the meat of home,

it is never clear what

pattern the shadow


of the past has made

on now.


In the neighborhood you still won’t claim,

a magic lantern


 projects an image of you turning on a spit.

The oxygen you thought was yours is reassigned


to the body of the flame.

You are as dark, as tender


as you’re going to get.

Here in the schoolroom, the abattoir, the pit.

-- Ashleigh Lambert

Over the River Not Out of the Woods

I’m taking medical leave

                        from this clumsy struggle.


Sign me up for the slow drip

                        that ferries the weary away


From the hopeless, the extravagant waterfalling

                        hiding under the guise of Day.


I demand the pills that render

                        the river docile


Or else

                        I must be put in traction


At the crux of the water’s decision.

                        Oarless, aerobic,


Wobbly as an egg in a storm,

                        there is only one thing worth asking


And can you see I’m asking for it

                        now, and now.

-- Ashleigh Lambert

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Mark Falcone

Mark Falcone

Mark Falcone

Mark is a native of Philadelphia’s Little Italy. He presently lives in De Pere. Mark has poetry published in numerous Poetry Anthologies. His first published poetry book is Fiery Mouthed Dragon published by Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, in 1975 and Experience the Doorway to Life 2016 and Childhood and Other Tales 2017 also self-published. While living in Baltimore he founded a poetry club for local poets teaching members to write in various forms and critiquing poetry of club members. He has had Poetry readings in Philadelphia and Vicinity for other poets and journalist. He also had a poetry club in De Pere giving readings at St. Norbert Abbey and the De Pere Library. He is also a member of the Academy of American Poets which helps upcoming poets to get their works published. He has been recognized by the Academy of American poets as a contributor to fostering contemporary poetry. He has put some poetry of his own and that of Emily Dickenson to music. He is a composer of classical music, a photographer with a National Geographic web site of his photos. His music can be found on YouTube.

Sample Poem

When I was just 11 years old our next door neighbor
who was married three times
and had 5 or 6 children by each marriage
had a birthday party and all of his
children and grandchildren came.
It was a great mob of people.

In a small city street and small city house the
house overflowed with people many
were children.

The party was over and everyone was leaving, when
one couple were captured by great fear, anxiety and
trembling. They could not find one of their
children. Looking everywhere he could not

A powerful feeling came over me that forced
me to go on a search. Looking for him was
like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Some power just pulled me into a search.
After almost an hour of searching
I was exhausted, but continued the search.

Finally I saw the little child and worked my
way to him and was hoping he
would not be afraid and run away from me.
When I reached him he did not run.
Grabbing him by the hand
I proceeded to return him to his parents.
I was this boy’s savior.

However there are no prophecies about
my coming, nor recored history about
my living.
I guess none of that is necessary to be

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Laurie MacDiarmid & Emilie Lindemann

Laurie MacDiarmid

Laurie MacDiarmid

Laurie MacDiarmid is a Professor of English and Director of Faculty Development at St. Norbert College. She regularly participates in April's Poem a Day challenge.

Sample Poem

How to Knit Love from Air

Travel by bicycle to where
crones spin thread from air, leaving
behind your need to walk on

solid ground.
You will find them clustered
in the last tower of a castle

built from cloud bricks,
overlooking a bottomless chasm
of fog and mist.

Select five bundles of
the weightless thread: sunset orange,
dusk purple, dawn red,

nightshade, mid-day cream.
Find a spot to sit under a weeping
willow tree, preferably

next to a brook.
Use wood needles carved from
an ancient laurel.

Stockinette stitch will work best.
Cast on a thousand stitches
in cream; knit a row, purl a row

and change to orange
after a thousand rows.
Remember to breath deep,

bringing the air into your belly.
Imagine your beloved
as a warm glow in your chest.

Continue to work each color
a thousand rows,
changing from red to

purple to
night, until the garment
reaches the stars,

spreading out crisp
and light and cold
as the fire in your heart,

then bind off,
weaving the ends in
like figure eights.

-- Laurie MacDiarmid

Emilie Lindemann

Emilie Lindemann

Emilie Lindemann’s first collection of poetry is mother-mailbox (2016, Misty Publications). She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Small Adult Trees/Small Adulteries and Queen of the Milky Way, both from dancing girl press. Her Instagram account is all rural sunsets, her fluffy-haired son, and floral notebooks. Emilie is an Associate Professor of English at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Sample Poem


You imagine a navigation system for artists
           of the lightning bug variety.
Blue and purple pegs lined up on a Lite Brite screen,
Black paper punctured
with constellations.

You weave threads from trapeze bar wire hangers in dark closets.
           The baby is always crawling           towards technicolor
           When every peg falls out of the Lite Brite
You’re left with empty sockets, traces, residue.
Drool on the carpeting.
           The baby is teething again.

Outside, it’s firefly dark.

We look
           through frosted car windows.
We swim
in teal skies shot through with pink, yellow light.

Through pathways of the mind,
zipping indigo.
My midnight bluebird.
           At sunrise, through the blue curtain, patch of sky
Portal of cerulean light
beyond horizontal silo,

my little blue heart beating, blinking on the screen.

-- Emilie Lindemann

First published in Firefly Magazine VI. From mother-mailbox (Misty Publications, 2016)

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Featuring Annnette Grunseth & Bobbie Lovell

Annette Grunseth

Annette Grunseth

Annette Langlois Grunseth, Green Bay, is a poet and advocate for human rights. Her work has been published in journals, books and anthologies in the Midwest, Oregon and Nova Scotia. Her chapbook Becoming Trans-Parent, One Family’s Journey of Gender Transition was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry. Her book was also nominated for a poetry award with the Society of Midland Authors. She has won honorable mentions and awards for her poetry with Wisconsin Academy Review, Wisconsin People and Ideas and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She often writes poetry on the bike trail or in her kayak on northern lakes where her muse tags along, just for the exercise. 

Sample Poem

My Mother’s Moon

Her day was not complete
until she stepped out to see the moon.
It might be an orange ball rising
or a white turtle egg hovering.
More than a thousand full moons
shadowed my mother.
She studied the moon when Neil Armstrong stepped upon it.
She cried for her son who saw the same moon rising
over rice paddies and incoming mortars in Vietnam.
There was the empty nest moon the autumn I left for college,
but the loneliest moon was the August my Dad died.
The moon of selling her house changed the view,
rising to different walls. Yet it was always her moon at bedtime.
She loved the strawberry moon, harvest moon,
eclipses of the moon, Indian summer moon.
And finally, a full moon rising on her last night,
crickets in the grass singing.
I held her hand, bed pulled close to the window,
moonlight falling gently across her face.

-- Annette L. Grunseth 

Published in Portage Magazine 2017 issue

Bobbie Lovell

Bobbie Lovell

Bobbie Lee Lovell won the 2016 Kay Saunders Memorial New Poet Award and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her first chapbook, Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber, was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. The product of a personal growth and healing process, this collection features poems about relationships, decision-making and resilience with ekphrastic (visual art) and speculative (science fiction/fantasy) elements. Bobbie is an alumnus of the UW–Green Bay’s art department, and she has a career in graphic design and print production. Her website is

Sample Poem

Riding with Aladdin

“Do you trust me?” he asks.
The question unsettles me. 
No one trusts anyone anymore,
I want to say. Trust is cliché, obsolete.

He lacks a lamp but fancies me
his princess, dares me to deny
the romance of trusting
the kind stranger, the thief.

He is waiting. “Of course,” I say.

We are, after all, riding the same
sputtering rug. We’ve flown to the edge
of the world, and not once did I fear
he might elbow me off it.

“Good,” he says, “because I trust you.”

He smiles, and I am further disturbed
that he is appeased. I wish
I felt so certain. Where’s a genie
when you need one?

from Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber (Finishing Line Press, 2017

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading


Nathan J. Reid & Kathryn Gahl

Kathryn Gahl

Kathryn Gahl

Kathryn Gahl is a writer, dancer, and registered nurse. Born to an Irish nurse and German farmer, she grew up with seven siblings in a farmhouse located at the end of a half-mile gravel drive. She earned a B.S. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a B.S. in Nursing at Syracuse University (NY). After 25 years in nursing and nursing management, she became a full-time writer, studying at Bread Loaf, Stonecoast, Sewanee, Iowa Writers’ Workshop Fiction Intensive, Iowa Summer Festival, Vermont College, and Taos.

Her poems and stories are widely published in small journals, including Eclipse, Hawaii Pacific Review, Permafrost, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Willow Review. Twice a Glimmer Train finalist, she received honorable mention from The Council of Wisconsin Writers andWisconsin People & IdeasMargie named her a finalist for the Marjorie J. Wilson Award. Other finalist awards include poetry at Lumina and Chautauqua , the Arthur Edelstein Prize for Short Fiction, the William Richey Short Story Winner, and the Flash Fiction finalist at Talking Writing .

for the eighth-grade girl writing love lyrics

Description of new work

There is a line you will cross
in the ninth grade or the tenth
quick slip of judgment, addling after
The Boyboy you wrote about in eighth grade. That
boy or a different boy will stir you if you
let him tell you what you want to believe. Study his
rhythms and those of the agent, coach, or music
marketer telling you how to dress, who you ought
to be between the measures before your body
becomes someone else's body
not the bright-eyed blessed and
testy one you need for your first album
and all the ones thereafter

-- Kathryn Gahl

Nathan J Reid

Nathan J Reid

Nathan J. Reid is a poet and spoken word artist whose work has appeared in several journals, including the Penguin Review, Fox Cry Review, and Binnacle. He has a background in theatre and regularly performs his poetry at art events throughout Wisconsin. His chapbook, Thoughts on Tonight, was published this year by Finishing Line Press. He currently lives in Madison with his partner, Ashley, and their endless supply of books.  


From a small-town blizzard
are born two angels in the snow
whose powdery irises
bear young witness
to a truth such as this:

Paradise melts at the touch.

Every breath drawn in this town
flies shackled-wing flight
under Sheriff John's throne,
his icy yardstick
bending with command
to score another feathered pair
to force another tasty angel down.

And there is no sound
as snow pushes out
another clipped love.

There is no sound
as two angels watch crystal clumps
paint dying dreams
that keep their brilliant purity
their untouched white
even though pollution
has begun to stain their wings.

When You Wake 

you hear distant rumors about what it will be like
to go to sleep and never wake up

about a time when all vibrations cash in their casino chips, take the red-eye home
when the biggest number is again smaller than the smallest number
when your mind is a wilting flower
and an hour yet pending returns you to the realm that fed you into birth

you hear these things happening someday

but today you breathe fire and music as if fire and music, like yourself,
were somehow separate from this collapsing dream of time trying to remember light

you have always been light
light is the reality beneath the dream

as you are breath you are the nothingness
a photon knows not its own existence

so why fear the wilted flower?

if the color has gone pallid
the leaves too brittle to touch
then cheer the fragrance

it is still so incredible and lovely

From Thoughts on Tonight; Finishing Line Press, 2017

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Christine Swanberg & Tom Davis

Christine Swanberg

Christine Swanberg

Christine Swanberg’s books include TONIGHT ON THIS LATE ROAD (Erie St., 1984), INVISIBLE STRING (Erie St., 1990), BREAD UPON THE WATERS (UW:Whitewater, 1990), SLOW MIRACLE (Lake Shore, 1992), THE TENDERNESS OF MEMORY (Plainview Press, 1995), THE RED LACQUER ROOM (Chiron Press, 2001) and WHO WALKS AMONG THE TREES WITH CHARITY(Wind Publications, KY, 2005) and THE ALLELUIA TREE (Puddin’head Press, IL). 

Hundreds of her poems have appeared in many journals such as SPOON RIVER, THE AVOCET, WIND, LOUISVILLE and many others. Recently GARDEN BLESSINGS, BACK TO JOY,  GRATITUDE PRAYERS AND POEMS, and EARTH BLESSINGS (June Cotner Anthologies) have included Christine’s poems as well as SOUNDINGS: POETRY OF DOOR COUNTY. An interview appears in POET’S MARKET 2008.  Christine is a writing teacher for museums, churches, arts councils, and women’s organizations. Recent essays appear in WOMEN ON POETRY and WRITING AFTER RETIREMENT. In Rockford she has won the Mayor’s Art (Lawrence Gloyd) Award for Education,  a YWCA Leader Luncheon Award for the Arts, and the Womanspirit Award at Womanspace.

She has given readings and workshops throughout the USA, most recently Palm Beach Community Center, FL;  Sedona, AZ;  Poetry Rendezvous in Taos, NM;  Door Country, Dickenson Series; The Clearing, Door Country, WI; and many others. Recently two of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes by CHIRON.

Sample Poetry

Hummingbird Whisperer

Glory be to the fierce little warriors
who return to my garden every year.
Come, enjoy, drink the various nectars,
tiny bold ones. You without any fear.
Teach me to cultivate fervor and focus.  
Stay in our shared secret sanctuary
created for you with bergamot and phlox, 
fuchsia and the feeder hung on the tree
you visit each morning. Hello! Goodbye! 
Who could be freer? Fast as a torpedo
when I'm digging, spading, you catch my eye.
Graceful as the wind--glanced from my window.
You share delight with your earthbound sister. 
You've made me a hummingbird whisperer.

First published THE AVOCET. Won a prize for Word of Art. Also published in June Cotner collection, EARTH BLESSINGS.

A Friend Asks

why I write poetry
and though I’ve dreamed of this moment
for years, it stops me like a siren:

Because Mayan women no longer weave chevrons
     in desert sunset threads
because it is no longer useful.
Because the snowy egret leaves the marsh forever.
Because the people closest to me suffer.
Because words are bread.
Because writing it is as mapless
     as driving down back roads.
Because without it my life is measured in paychecks.
Because I love you and can’t tell you.
Because I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.
Because there are so many questions nobody asks.
Because someone wants to know.


Poet Tom Davis. Photo by Len Villano

Poet Tom Davis. Photo by Len Villano

Thomas Davis has had a distinguished career as a President and Chief Academic Officer of four tribal colleges and the Provost of Navajo Technical University in New Mexico.  He is the author of Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit (State University of New York Press), chapters in books published by Nebraska University Press and the Smithsonian, and has had poetry, fiction, and essays published in anthologies, books, magazines, and literary journals.  He has given poetry readings, primarily at colleges and universities, in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and several U.S. states and edited The Zuni Mountain Poets Anthology and three small literary magazines.

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6:30 PM18:30

Be Your Authentic Self: A Poetry Reading

Kress Family Branch of the Brown County Library, 333 N. Broadway, De Pere
Be Your Authentic Self: A Poetry Reading
Annette Langlois Grunseth & Bobbie Lee Lovell

Join us for a reading that honors the struggles and joys of living an authentic life. Two local poets will read from their new chapbooks, both published by Finishing Line Press. Annette Langlois Grunseth is the author of Becoming Trans-Parent: One Family's Journey of Gender Transition. These poems share the parental experience of an adult child transitioning from son to daughter. Narratives address issues including family life, clothing, medical care and social justice. Bobbie Lee Lovell’s book, Proposition at the Walk-In Infinity Chamber, is the product of a personal growth and healing process. These poems are about relationships, decision-making and resilience. Pivotal moments from dating to divorce are infused with ekphrastic (visual art) and speculative (sci-fi/fantasy) elements. The event is free, and everyone is welcome. Featured poets only, no open mic.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

James Botsford & Gregory Galbraith

James Botsford

James Botsford

James Botsford started writing poetry in the basement of the family home in North Dakota in the 1960s when he discovered the Beats and the Taoists. He is the author of a book about the history of tribal courts of Wisconsin, a book of stories called "You Should Write that Down" and a book of poetry titled "Them Apples." The latter two books are available at Janke's Bookstore (the oldest independent bookstore in Wisconsin).

James was an Indian rights attorney for thirty years and has travelled extensively. He currently lives with his wife Krista on the banks of Big Sandy Creek east of Wausau and is at work on a book of rants.

Gregory Gailbraith

Gregory Gailbraith

After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Dairy Science in 1981, Greg Galbraith bought a farm in Eastern Marathon County where his ancestors began farming in 1890. He is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and has been published in their annual calendar, along with Nerve Cowboy small press lit magazine, and MUSH a publication of  UW- Marathon County. Most recently, he had three poems and two images published in the March 2017 issue of Midwest Review.  He exhibits paintings and photography throughout Wisconsin, including a permanent exhibit in a health care clinic in Colfax, Wisconsin. His first full length book of Poetry, Germinations, will be available in April of 2017.

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1:00 PM13:00

Summer Poetry Festival

Summer Poetry Festival

The lazy days of summer were made for poetry, music, wine and sunny food.

Come experience Green Bay’s second annual SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL outside at The Reader’s Loft in London Alley on Saturday, July 29. Come any time between 1pm to 4pm. Or stay all day.

Relax and revel in poetry under the canopy with Wisconsin poets:

Sylvia Bowersox
Cathryn Cofell
Bruce Dethlefsen
Nathan Reid
Jeanie Tomasko
Steve Tomasko
Christopher Wood
 Daniel Dahlquist

Groove to local musicians:

Colin J, lyrics & guitar
Amy Philips, singer/songwriter

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Melissa Range

Melissa Range

Melissa Range

Melissa Range is the author of Scriptorium, a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series (Beacon Press, 2016), and Horse and Rider (Texas Tech University Press, 2010). She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. 



Before the stepwork and the fretwork,
before the first wet spiral leaves the brush,
before the plucking of the geese’s quills,
before the breaking of a thousand leads,

before the curving limbs and wings
of hounds, cats, and cormorants
knot into letters, before the letters knot
into the Word, Eadfrith ventures from his cell,

reed basket on his arm, past Cuthbert’s grave,
past the stockyard where the calves’ cries bell,
and their blood illuminates the dirt as ink
on vellum, across the glens and woods

to gather woad and lichens, to the shores
to gather shells. The earth, not the cell,
is his scriptorium, where he might see
the interlace of branch and twig and leaf;

how green bleeds brown when fields are plowed;
how green banks blue where grass gives way to sea;
how blue twists into white in swirling lines
purling through the water and the sky.

Before the skinning of a hundred calves,
before the stretching and the scraping of their hides,
before the boiling vinegar, the toasting lead,
the bubbling orpiment and verdigris,

before the glair cracks from the egg,
before the monk perfects his recipe
(egg white, oak-gall, iron salt, mixed
in a tree-stump, some speculate)

to make the pigments glorious to the Lord,
before Eadfrith’s fingers are permanently stained
the colors of his world—crimson, emerald,
cerulean, gold—outside the monastery walls,

in the village, with its brown hounds
spooking yellow cats stalking green-black birds,
on the purple-bitten lips of peasants
his gospel’s corruption already sings forth

in vermilion ink, firebrands on a red calf’s hide—
though he’ll be dead before the Vikings sail,
and two centuries of men and wars
will pass before his successor Aldred

pierces Eadfrith’s text with thorn,
ash, and all the other angled letters
of his gloss. Laced between the lines of Latin,
the vernacular proclaims, in one dull tint,

a second illumination,
of which Eadfrith was not unaware:
this good news is for everyone,
like language, like color, like air.

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler Passes on Dessert

She's got a sweet tooth, a candy mouth—
yet she sweeps by the ice-creams without a taste.
She won't eat slave sugar from the South.

The company thinks it most uncouth.
A young lady knows better than to slight her host.
To make the boiled custards that candy their mouths,

the cook had to chip a ten-pound sugarloaf, froth
it with butter, thick cream, lemon zest.
It was labor, but she's not a slave mother in the South,

caught between the canebrake and the tablecloth.
The hostess is pound-cake white, dressed
in cotton, her sweet smile decaying in her mouth.

Seeing the plate of marzipan, Elizabeth,
in wool, sees women's unclothed backs beat to a paste,
children scythed in the sugar fields of the South.

Gnawed half to death by faith and wrath,
she fingers her teaspoon, bright and chaste.
Call her fool tooth, call her trifle mouth,
but she won't eat that slave sugar from the South.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Tom Erickson & C Kubasta

Tom Erickson

Tom Erickson

Thomas J. Erickson’s poems have appeared  in numerous publications. His award-winning chapbook, The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom was published by Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin Libraries in 2013.  His full length poetry book, The Biology of Consciousness, was published this year by Pebblebrook Press.  He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.   He is an attorney in Milwaukee where he specializes in criminal defense.

Sample Poems


When I was a little kid, and I swear this is really true,
once I prayed that I would get one of my migraines. 
And I did.  And the black jackal came like he always did, 
after the witching hour but before the birds sang, 
and in the darkest dark I knew I had to crawl as fast
as I could to the bathroom to vomit whatever was good
out of me and for a few seconds I could rest my head
on the white cool porcelain while my Mom got the cot ready. 
And I would lie there in the bathroom—
one movement of my head or sliver of light would
make the jackal mad and he would take his poker
and stab me right above my right eye and then the bile
would rise and he’d get what was left.

But the next day or maybe the day after, I could open
my eyes to the day and keep down some Seven-Up
and play Scrabble with my Mom. And he was gone.  

Burden of Proof

A crack addict client kidnapped
a UWM student and drove her around
and held a gun to her head and raped her
and put her in the trunk of his car and
showed her to his friends and then let her
go at a gas station.

That’s what she said he did.

He said he picked her up at a bar
on Brady Street and she wanted to get high
so he bought crack with her money
and she was ready so he busted
his nut in the backseat and then
kicked her out of his car because
it was almost morning and he was
tired and she was getting to be
a clingy white bitch
which bugged the shit out of him.

I don’t know what really happened
and I don’t care.   

Well, it’s not like I don’t care, 
it’s that I can’t care.  It shouldn’t make
a difference to me if he did it or not.  
It shouldn’t make a difference
that my son goes to UWM
and that girl could have been his friend.            
It shouldn’t make a difference that I get            
a palpable thrill when I cross-                    
examine this girl on the stand. 

But what if my doubts are reasonable
and my client did do it?

Then I can tell you I represent evil.
And I can tell you that addiction makes
experience matter.  And on we go.

C Kubasta

C Kubasta

C Kubasta thinks poetry, like humor, porn, & horror, should be a body genre. Her favorite rejection (so far) noted that one editor loved her work, and the other hated it.  Her poetry has appeared in So To Speak, Cosmonauts Avenue, Construction, Tinderbox Poetry Review and The Notre Dame Review, among other places. She is the author of two chapbooks: A Lovely Box (Finishing Line Press) which won the 2014 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Prize, and &s (Finishing Line, 2016); and a full-length collection, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX, 2015). Her next book, Of Covenants, is forthcoming from Whitepoint Press in 2017.

She teaches English and Gender Studies at Marian University, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where she is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and works with Brain Mill Press. She lives with her beloved John, cat Cliff, and dog Ursula. Find her at

Sample Poem

Them & Us & We

If you were my sister we would know each other beneath the skin as wishes of our father the
acquiescence of our mother or the reverse who is to know what happens in darkened rooms in
lightened rooms in rooms that are not rooms before we are born

If you were my sister we would know each other only by the way others know us through our
most visible layer and even if not kin or kind the world would name us such

If you were my sister we would love the same way or the same way others named it a love
distinguished by lack by touch the touch always the same as if there is only one way my kind
makes this love

If you were my sister we would live without too much wanting too much having or the men we
call father would bring down the word which is the only word that ever matters

and I would mark my body with the mark of your body to say to the world that we are sisters

and you would repay my questions with the kindness of questions

so that it seems again we may wear this body in common

and these bodies would not be only a snapshot series of a hall light falling on nakedness a dark
rustling the smell of charcoal like an artist's fingers must smell after making furious gestures

and I would not misspeak with the easy pronouns of us and them and you and I

If we were sisters and said "sister" to each other we would ask what kind of sister do you mean
what are you saying what are you calling me who are you to call me sister

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Laurel Mills

Laurel Mills

Laurel Mills

Laurel Mills of Neenah is the author of five award-winning collections of poetry, including Hidden Seed which won the Posner Poetry Award, and Rumor of Hope which won the Encircle Publications chapbook contest.  Both of these books are about her daughter, Beth, who has a rare genetic condition.  Mills’ poems have been published in periodicals such as Ms. Magazine, Yankee, Calyx, Kalliope, and in several anthologies including Boomer Girls: Poems by Women from the Baby Boom Generation.  She is Senior Lecturer Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, where she taught English and edited the literary magazine Fox Cry Review. 


Work, Hers and Mine

I scour Lake Michigan for poems
while at school Beth learns work.
She didn't walk until she was three.
Now she carries newspapers to 63
houses, her hands black with ink.
The teacher dogs her tracks,
warning her to lift her head
at street corners.

I cross the sand, remember the year
she buried her beach ball and we dug
hole after hole searching for it.
She brings that same insistence
to scrubbing bathroom floors,
cafeteria tables.

Once she sat for hours
and hurled stones into the lake,
leaving a bald place around her.
Now she sits and fits washers
on a wooden peg, collates pages.
These tasks are not too small.

When asked if she likes her jobs,
she says, "Yes, me no fired."
When the lake whispers do I love her,
I say, "Yes, I am proud."

I draw her name on the beach.
She painstakingly prints it
on the back of a check.
And this red stone at my feet
is my heart the lake tosses up to her.

The Imaginary Husband

The ring on her finger is the size of Texas, plastic, 
red and blue, a lone star from the vending machine.
My wedding ring, she says. Bob, my husband.
When asked to give Bob’s last name,
she looks away and shrugs. I dunno.
Maybe this is her fantasy life: she has a dog
and two cats. The cats’ names are Fluffy and Nutty. 
The dog is a Brittany spaniel and sleeps on their bed
at night near Bob’s feet. The dog stirs
when Bob shifts to wrap his arm around Beth.  
When the sun comes up, Bob kisses Beth
on the fragile line of her collarbone.
He makes scrambled eggs with shredded
cheese and shallots; she makes cinnamon toast. 
They eat on the front porch and wave
to the paper boy when he bicycles past.  
All day at the sheltered workshop
Beth thinks of Bob and plans their supper.  
They like to do the dishes together,
though they argue about who washes and who dries.
They tell about their day, all the little gossips.  
Fluffy and Nutty meow around their legs, the dog
waits for a walk around the block when Bob and Beth
will “howdy” at neighbors. They take their coffee
to the little garden at the back of the house.  
Bob nips the dried geranium; Beth pulls a thistle
from the nasturtiums. Curled on the brick patio, 
dreaming of rabbits, the dog farts in his sleep. 
This is the story of their life together, the story of
Mr. and Mrs. I-Dunno and their very ordinary days.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Angeline Haen

Angeline Haen

Angeline Haen

Angeline Haen was raised on a small dairy farm in Sobieski, Wisconsin, where the love of the earth and all things of nature collected in her heart. Through her participation in the Native American community in her later years, she learned how to nurture a relationship with all that surrounds her. A former electrical / instrumentation journeywoman and stay-at-home mom, she is currently employed as a school bus driver. She and her husband, Andy, steward a forty-five acre hobby farm and tend to the needs of four beehives. She is actively involved in the lives of her two children, Sophie, who is seventeen, and Peter, who is fourteen. 

Her first book, Sweet Wisdoms, is forthcoming from Shanti Arts Publishing in February of this year. Sweet Wisdoms was inspired by daily walks with her yellow lab named Wally, a van full of preschoolers, ponderings over split pea soup and every pause of wonder in between. In 2015 two of her poems were published in the Wicwas publication entitled Safe To Chew, an anthology celebrating the honey bee. Her participation in a local woman’s writing circle facilitated by Writing Specialist and Author, Sandra Shackelford (a.k.a Princess-Of-Quite-A-Lot) was life changing.

Not all wisdom is siphoned from bitter experiences in a life. Wisdom has a sweet side. It’s revealed from a perspective of natural curiosity about the mystical messages in our everyday circumstances. Uncomplicated observations are described with vivid imagery and metaphor. The vignettes are an easy big-hearted read. Sweet Wisdoms was inspired by a van full preschoolers, daily walks with a yellow lab named Wally, ponderings over split pea soup and every pause of wonder in between. Based on real-life experiences seeking human insights, Sweet Wisdoms will challenge everything you think you know about acquiring wisdom. Be inspired to recognize and acknowledge the existence of simple sweet wisdoms in your own encounters with life.

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Kathryn Gahl & Sarah Gilbert

Photo Cropped.png

Kathryn Gahl is a writer, dancer, and registered nurse. Born to an Irish nurse and German farmer, she grew up with seven siblings in a farmhouse located at the end of a half-mile gravel drive. She earned a B.S. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a B.S. in Nursing at Syracuse University (NY). After 25 years in nursing and nursing management, she became a full-time writer, studying at Bread Loaf, Stonecoast, Sewanee, Iowa Writers’ Workshop Fiction Intensive, Iowa Summer Festival, Vermont College, and Taos.

Her poems and stories are widely published in small journals, including Eclipse, Hawaii Pacific Review, Permafrost, Porcupine Literary Arts Magazine, and Willow Review. Twice a Glimmer Train finalist, she received honorable mention from The Council of Wisconsin Writers and Wisconsin People & Ideas . Margie named her a finalist for the Marjorie J. Wilson Award. Other finalist awards include poetry at Lumina and Chautauqua , the Arthur Edelstein Prize for Short Fiction, the William Richey Short Story Winner, and the Flash Fiction finalist at Talking Writing . More at

Sarah Gilbert.JPG

Sarah Gilbert returned to writing poetry in the midst of two decades of Lynch Syndrome cancers. Her chapbook, Tendril: Living with Lynch Syndrome, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. At some point she will get around to pulling together another manuscript. Poems have appeared in Fox Cry Review, Wisconsin Poets Calendar, The Healing Muse, and Your Daily Poem. Sarah enjoys weaving, helping out in her community, library, and church, spending time with family and in nature, especially at the cottage on Lake Michigan. She hosts monthly poetry readings at Copper Rock Cafe in Appleton. 

Thoughts on a No-Hair Day

This autumn I am deciduous.
My hair without anchor
loosed with a touch
flies with the wind
like the leaves

I rake my hair off my pillow
my shoulders, the sink, the floor,
becoming acquainted with my scalp
cool and tingling
as delicate wisps of hair lift with the breeze. 

I am shedding
like cats in spring
but now they are laying in their winter coats.
This is not their shedding season.

Better to think of the trees
branches bare to winter wind
strongly rooted
leafing out anew in the spring.

* * *


Screensaver goldfish
drift lazily by
waving their fantails
moving their lips
while bubbles
percolate from blue gravel.
Lucy the cat
sits mesmerized
tilts her head
lifts a soft paw
bats and bats again
but the fish know
she’s not really there.

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11:00 AM11:00

Informal Recitation Event

Following her reading Thursday night, Kimberly will host an Informal Recitation Event Friday from 11am to 1pm.

For the recitation event, please select a published poem by a poet you love and learn it "by heart." Come anytime during the event window of 11am to 1pm and Blaeser will videotape you reciting your poem.

If you can’t make it to the recitation event, formal Challenge rules are below.


In her tenure as Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate, Blaeser created the first-ever Wisconsin Poetry Recitation Challenge to celebrate recited poetry, a lost art. 

Residents of Wisconsin are invited to select a published poem by a poet they love and learn it "by heart." They should then create a videotape of reciting the poem, providing:

  • An introduction with name of poet and title of poem
  • Insight as to why the poem is meaningful. 

Send video to:

In your email include:

  1. Subject line: “Submission Recitation Project” followed by name (for example: Submission Recitation Project, Kimberly Blaeser).
  2. Body of the email: name of person reciting the poem, title and name of poet, along with the location and date of the recitation.

All videos will be considered for posting by the Wisconsin Laureate Commission. 

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Kimberly Blaeser
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Poet, photographer, and scholar, Kimberly Blaeser, is the current Wisconsin Poet Laureate.  Blaeser is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee where she teaches Creative Writing, Native American Literature, and American Nature Writing. Her publications include three books of poetry: Trailing You, Absentee Indians and Other Poems, and Apprenticed to Justice. Included in volumes whose titles are as varied as Sing, Women on Hunting and Reinventing the Enemy’s Language, her poetry, essays, and short fiction are widely anthologized and selections of her poetry have been translated into several languages including Spanish, Norwegian, Indonesian, French, and Hungarian.  Blaeser has performed her poetry at over 200 different venues around the globe, from Bahrain to Spain, and identifies the two most memorial sites for readings as the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia and a Fire-Ceremony at the Borderlands Museum Grounds in arctic Norway. She been the recipient of awards for both writing and speaking, among these a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship in Poetry, the Diane Decorah first book award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, and four Pushcart Nominations.

Of Anishinaabe ancestry and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Blaeser grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. Her current creative project features “Picto-Poems” and brings her nature and wildlife photography together with poetry to explore intersecting ideas about Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance.   She lives in the woods and wetlands of rural Lyons Township Wisconsin and spends part of each year at a water access cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.

On Climbing Petroglyphs


Newly twelve with size seven feet

dangling beside mine off the rock

ledge, legerdemain of self knowledge.

How do I say anything—magic

words you might need to hear?

With flute-playing, green-painted nails

your child’s fingers reach to span the range

of carmel-colored women in our past.

Innocently you hold those ghost hands:

each story a truce we’ve made with loss.

How can I tell you there were others?


Big-boned women who might try

to push out hips in your runner’s body.

Women who will betray you for men,

a bottle, or because they love you

love you, don’t want to see you disappointed

in life, so will hold you, hold you hostage

with words, words tangled around courage

duty or money. When should I show you

my own flesh cut and scarred on the barbs

of belonging and love’s oldest language?



No, let us dangle here yet, dawdle

for an amber moment while notes shimmer

sweetly captured in turquoise flute songs—

the score of a past we mark together.

No words whispered yet beyond these painted

untainted rock images of ancients: sun, bird, hunter.

Spirit lines that copper us to an infinity.

Endurance. Your dangling. Mine.

Before the floor of our becoming.

Perhaps even poets must learn silence,

that innocence, that space before speaking.

-- Kimberly Blaeser

Angles of Being

It’s all angle after all. What we see and especially what we miss.

Like the leaf bird limed and shadowed to match every other green upturned hand blooming on the August tree.  Indecipherable.  Even when wings flutter like leaves in breeze. 

Or the silhouette—dark and curved on the bare oak.  Beak, parted tail, each mistakable for knot, branch, or twig.  Only when one exits the scene, unblends and isolates itself, flies against too blue sky does the game of hidden pictures end.

Ah, angles. Tell all or tell it slant. What we dream, appear, or inverted seem to be.

-- Kimberly Blaeser

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5:30 PM17:30

Poetry Reading

Bobbie Lovell & Wendy Diehlmann

Bobbie Lovell’s educational background and career are in visual art, graphic design and print production — but she’s hopelessly smitten with words. She lives near Green Bay with her two favorite young people and works in a corporate marketing department. Bobbie's poems have appeared in several journals, and she received a 2015 Pushcart nomination from Star*Line. She tends to write about relationships and ordinary life, occasionally from outer space.

The Morning After the World Didn't End

You wake to a sliver
of wan winter light
leaking between curtains.
Peering out, your eyes
linger on the landscape,
blessedly familiar in its wholeness —
no smoldering skeletal ruins,
no field of fallen sky.

A passing jogger,
ponytail bouncing,
seemingly impervious to cold
but too pristine and nimble
to be zombified,
confirms that you aren’t,
somehow, the proverbial
last soul on Earth
left mysteriously behind.

You are infinitely grateful
for the steadfast sun
iridescent on the frosty lawn,
for the grounding scent
of brewing coffee, and even
for this exercise in dread
and hope. You brim with profound
relief in the mundane —
that which is often reserved
for cancer remissions
and military homecomings.

TV ads urge viewers
to complete holiday shopping,
confident that Santa
will indeed deliver.
But the news reveals
the flip side of sameness:
Oceans rise and missiles fall
today as they did yesterday.
Again, you feel the grip of the end
around your throat, threatening,
at any time, to squeeze.
Even so, you won’t give up —
not now. Especially not now.

-- Bobbie Lovell


Wendy Diehlmann has taken the long way ‘round, completing her Bachelor of Arts after her daughters were grown. Life has been a rich and full experience thus far, despite living it check-to-check, and the variety of that experience, in work, travel and people and friends, has been more than worth it. She lives in Oconto township, in a little piece of heaven on the bay. She was a guest on and read her poetry on Higher Ground with Jonathon Overby in 2005. She works two part-time jobs and is finally at a point where it is time for the writing.

I am an Old House

I am an old house.
A family whose roots
Reach and branch
back and back,
through country
through century
to obscure beginnings.
I came down from
Norway, France
and Germany
crossing paths along the way
with a Rabbi somewhere back,
I’m told.
There were Vikings.
I saw them,
in the sons and grandsons
broad-shouldered and
white-blonde hair,
ruddy faces
and blue eyes,
Stepping slow
bearing their mother, their grandmother
to the grave where we were gathered.
There were farmers.
I the child saw them,
in my grandfathers, in my uncles.
Their eyes
in wind-burned
leathered faces
looked across fields
into the sunset
as if they
were gazing back through time.
Strong arms, stubborn hearts,
backs bent to their work.
There were matriarchs.
I saw them, in the faces
of my mother and
her sisters
cooking in their kitchens.
Strong hands, stubborn hearts
beneath flowered aprons.
They got their way
When it mattered.
The old ones are nearly gone now.
I am ninety-nine
in my Aunt Hazel.
I am ninety-three
in my father.
I have seen the world
as it was
before cars
before telephones.
From the corner of
the country porch
I the child
watched dusk
creep, trailing
its shadow across the yard.
The windmill
turned lazily in evening breezes,
I listened to my parents
with brothers and wives,
sisters and husbands,
the cadence and
the laughter
led me back with them
to years before
when days, slower days
ended at dusk, and
the windmill turned lazily in evening breezes.
I am an old house.
I stand in the country.

-- Wendy Diehlmann

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