Wisconsin Poetry News

Farm/Art DTour & Wormfarm Institute

Roadside Culture Stand-Photo by Katrin Talbot

During October, the Wormfarm Institute and Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce held a food and farming festival that included farmers, chefs, artists, poets, & cheese makers. A highlight of the festival was The Farm/Art DTour featuring farm-based, public art installations, "Roadside Culture Stands," produce, Field Notes (rural education sites), & pasture performances.

Photos from the Farm/Art DTour in this issue were taken by Wisconsin poet & artist, Katrin Talbot.

(Left: Come what may, Katie Schofield. Right: TRUTH in the Driftless Region, Catherine Schwalbe-Bouside, Photos by Katrin Talbot.)

Come what may (detail), Katie Schofield,
Photo by Katrin Talbot

Founded in 2000, "The Wormfarm  expands the concept of the CSA, which helps reconnect consumers with the source of their food, by connecting urban and rural, people and land, culture and agriculture. It also expands the idea of ‘sustainability’ to include not just nourishment to live, but a vibrant creative community in which to thrive." (Wormfarm Institute Website)

The Wormfarm Institute offers working residencies for artists and writers and will begin taking applications in December for 2012.

State Park Sports Poetry Trail

By Nancy Rafal

What do you do when the president of a friends' group of a state park asks you to bring poetry to the park?  You refer him to a poet who helped establish a poetry trail across the state. The rest is history. Well, not exactly.

In late 2009 I was asked by Jack Travis, President of the Newport State Park Wilderness Society, how poetry could be incorporated into the park visitor experience. I quickly referred him to Phil Hansotia because Phil had experience with a similar project when he lived in Marshfield. Phil embraced the possibility of a poetry trail at Newport State Park and worked with the friends' group, and with the park staff, headed by Michelle Hefty, Park Manager.  Phil did the heavy lifting of the project and was cheered on by Sharon Auberle and myself, the three of us the first poets on the committee charged with bringing the idea into actuality.

Ten weather-protected posts were installed on a segment of the trail leading to Rowley’s Bay which begins near the park’s visitors center. The trail continues on a loop of the Monarch trail that leads back to the parking lot. Six of the poetry posts are on the open section of the trail and are accessible for handicapped park visitors.

In July 2010 the Poetry Trail launched with an exhibit featuring works of the Wallace Group, a poetry critique group in northern Door County. The second display featured Ellen Kort’s poetry. Ellen teaches regularly at the Clearing in Ellison Bay and is recognized as the first Wisconsin Poet Laureate. Ellen’s work remained on the trail through March 2011.

The poet members of the committee select works for display. The spring 2011 exhibit sought work of local high school students. Their works were interspersed with poems published in various editions of the Wisconsin Poets' Calendar. Student work will be the focus of future spring displays.

The next exhibit featured works by the Unabridged Poets Group.  Each post displayed one poem and a picture and thumbnail biography of the poet. Many of the poems related to nature.

Currently the poetry trail features the work of Barbara Larsen, Nancy Rafal and Barbara Larsena past regional vice-president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and current Poet Laureate of Door County.  Barbara has been a positive influence for poetry in Door County through teaching at the Clearing in Winter program and by her participation in the Wallace Group and the Unabridged Poets Group. Barbara is featured in the first issue of N.E.W. Voices magazine. Her poems have been set to music and "Pine Ridge, 1937" has been presented as a dramatic reading in two voices.

Newport State Park is located in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Take Highway 42 to County NP and go to the end of the road.  The wooded portion of the trail is on bedrock and is of moderate difficulty. The meadow section is an easy walk. 

The public can contribute to the Newport State Park Poetry Trail maintenance by contributing to the Newport Poetry Trail Support Fund.  Make checks payable to the Newport Wilderness Society, P.O. Box 187, Ellison Bay, WI  54210.  The Newport Wilderness Society is a 901 [c][3] non-profit, educational, tax-exempt organization.  Donations are tax-deductible within the limits of the law.