Poetry Dispatch No. 327 | July 19, 2010
WISCONSIN POETS’ CALENDAR, 2011
Jeffrey Johannes, Michael Farmer, Cory A. Masiak, Jude Genereaux, Bobbie Krinsky
Editor’s Note: This excellent collection, the Twenty-fifth Anniversary Celebration of Wisconsin’s Best Poetry (wfop.org/calendar.html), first published by Tom and Mary Montag in 1982 and under the superb direction of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets since 1987, is an annual reminder that poetry is alive and well in a Midwestern state noted for cows, cheese, beer, Fighting Bob LaFollette’s Progressive Party, and the Green Bay Packers.
The 2011 edition, extremely well-edited by Sandra Lindow and Peg Lauber, represents over two hundred Wisconsin poets, from the state’s past and present poet laureates to fledgling writers finding print for the first time. That’s a particular measure of mine I champion whenever possible: Does this little magazine publication, small press, etc. keep its door wide open for any and every writer who submits a piece of work for publication, or is it a ‘private club’ of like-minded friends and academics who publish only themselves? What I particularly admire about three Wisconsin publications—the former Free Verse, Hummingbird, and the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar—is the open door policy, knowing how difficult it has always been for beginning writers to get their foot in the literary door, even more so these days via print.
The 2011 calendar is further enhanced by the cover and interior art work of poet/painter of Candace Hennekens.
Bear in mind that my selections for this posting represent a very small fraction of all the fine work to be found in this volume. Also, many of the poets are either friends of mine and/or former students of my annual writing workshop at The Clearing, here in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin where I live, many of them with a substantial amount of books and credits to their name, and consequently will try my best (with the possibility of one or two exceptions) to concentrate primarily on the poets I do not know and/or those who could use a little more exposure.
This collection is such a rich resource of good work, I will very likely return to it throughout the year and post additional poems either on this site or either of my two Wisconsin sites: NBCoop News or Door County Today. –Norbert Blei
Some Winter Day
Think of winter as the creative
recluse who emerges
from his half of your duplex
to borrow a cup of sugar.
He sits at your table sipping coffee,
frost clinging to his beard.
Your coffee still too hot to drink,
You try to remind him about color:
daffodils, playground chalk, koi;
but he only wants to talk
about his latest composition,
an opera in which the protagonist
paints the world white.
It takes him all morning to sing
the opening aria.
Outside your window,
snow lifts and curls.
You light a cigarette,
pour some Irish whiskey
into your coffee,
and settle in for the second act.
ice fishing called off
boat refuses proper launch
water much too hard
I have to dig deep
to learn to be farmer again
I have to uproot
the strata of office jobs
the habit of meetings
and get my hands dirty
break into working sweat
the academic degrees
and study abroad
to find the grain
that kernel of need
in the sweet soil of me
–Cory A. Masiak
You know that smell
the minute you walk in
Know you’ve reached back & found it again
that old bait shop, milk & bread store
at the Four corners by the lake.
Could be in Petoskey where Old Hem
hung out on his way to the Big Two Hearted
or the one in Baileys on the harbor
any hundred others near the U.P. or the Brule
And you’re 10 again, a can of worms in your fist
waiting for Dad to take you out in that old row boat
with the leaky bottom, water sloshing between the slats
tied to the dock & bobbing in morning mist
up at Uncle Hank’s.
Walk through that old wooden screen door—BAM!
Bags of chips, iced cokes & souvenirs—jack knives,
birch bark canoes &; sweetgrass baskets For Sale
next to postcards of black bear & trout, all
steeped in the scent of old wood, damp & musty
Closed-for-Winter air lingering in summer’s musk
Walking back through that door
to summers past.
Winter’s First Orange
On nights like these
when temperatures plunge
and turn our world
into black ice and powder white
and my dog—even my dog—
won’t step outside,
it’s time to reach
for my first winter’s orange,
peel it in a single spiral,
lean over the kitchen sink
and, juice running
down my fingers,
take one bite, then another
till lips and tongue tingling,
I purr, “Hey Jack Frost,
blow me a kiss.”
For those wishing to get a copy of the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, drop by the Clearing in Ellison Bay or Novel Ideas in Baileys Harbor if you are local, or to go the the website http://www.wfop.org and hit the Calendar link for information…then wander through some of the other areas to find out more about the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.