Poetry Workshops

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Recipient Type
Start Date
April 2012
End Date
July 2012
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Lake of the Woods
St. Louis
Lake of the Woods
St. Louis
Project Overview
Poets Sheila Packa and Michelle Matthees lead two programs: a poetry reading and workshop. The poetry workshop explored and celebrated the role of place in our lives. Using guided writing exercises, participants explored themes like memory, tradition, pride and even alienation. The workshop was designed for everyone from beginning to more experienced writers. The reading featured the poets’ work as related to place. Sheila Packa grew up south of Biwabik and has a deep understanding of how place helps define identity and can be celebrated in poetry. Michelle Matthees shared how place informed her poetry, especially as it related to travel—including her recent trips to Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Local poets were encouraged to share their poetry. Internationally known poet and National Book Award recipient Jean Valentine read from her work. Jean Valentine’s poems are described as “a rare pleasure: serious and graceful” by the Library Journal, and as “sustenance, warmth, and light” by the poet Franz Wright. Her eleventh book of poetry, Break the Glass, was published in 2010 by Copper Canyon Press, and was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965 - 2003 was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. Spirit Lake Poetry Series, in partnership with the Arrowhead Library System, hosted an outreach reading by Northland poets Douglas Skrief, Michelle Matthees, and Julie Gard. Douglas Skrief, a native of International Falls, is a former fellow of the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers. His poetry has appeared in The Paris Review and on BBC Radio. Michelle Matthees is the author of three poetry collections published by Press This! She has received grants, awards and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, ARAC, and Associated Writing Programs. Julie Gard has published two chapbooks, Russia in 17 Objects (Tiger’s Eye Press) and Obscura: The Daguerreotype Series (Finishing Line Press), along with prose poetry and short fiction in journals and anthologies including The Prose Poem Project, Clackamas Literary Review, Dust and Fire, and Crab Orchard Review. The Joyce Sutphen visits included several events. 1) Big Ideas, Small Packages: Writing Short Poems, 12:30-2:00 p.m., Grand Rapids Area Library: A workshop for adults & teens with Joyce Sutphen. Attendees played with writing “Tweet sized” poems and putting their ideas for poems into small spaces. // 2) Sidewalk Poetry Contest: Teams and individuals registered to write original poems on a designated block of city sidewalk. Winning poems will be permanently inscribed on City sidewalks during 2012-2013. Contest registration: Grand Rapids Area Library 1:30-3:00 p.m., Poem creation & writing 2:00-4:00 p.m. Judging 4:00-6:00 p.m. Awards at Central School 7:00 p.m. // 3) Poetry Reading with Minnesota Poet Laureate, Joyce Sutphen, Central School, 6:30 p.m.
Project Details
68 patrons attended a poetry reading or workshop. / Date of Program: Monday, April 2, 2012, 1:00 PM Silver Bay Public Library: Poetry Workshop followed by Reading , , Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 12:00 PM Two Harbors Public Library: Poetry Reading (Brownbag) ; Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 12:00 PM Cloquet Public Library: Reading at 12:00 PM, Workshop at 1:00 PM ; Monday, April 9, 2012, 12:00 PM Baudette Public Library: Poetry Workshop followed by Reading ; Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 1:00 PM Grand Rapids Area Library: Children’s Poetry Workshop ; Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 12:00 PM Virginia Public Library: Poetry Reading followed by Workshop ; Monday, April 16, 2012, 6:00 PM Babbitt Public Library: Poetry Workshop 6:00 PM, Reading 7:30 PM ; Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 1:30 PM Buhl Public Library: Poetry Reading. Event: Jean Valentine Reading, Somers Lounge at the College of St. Scholastica, April 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm. 75 patrons attended this program. Date of Poet Panel Program: Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm, International Falls Library Lobby. 11 participants attended this program. 90 people attended the Joyce Sutphen programs.
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Laws of Minnesota for 2011 Chapter 6, Article 4, Subdivision 4
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Direct expenses
Administration costs
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Allow patrons to examine themselves and learn from past and present experiences through writing/hearing poetry. -- Facilitate patrons gaining insight on the idea of “place” and how it informs individuals’ identities. -- Help patrons understand the worlds of others. -- Allow both the poetry readers and writers to experience the beauty of the written word. -- Promote patron creativity. Educate patrons about poetry writing through listening to a reading and providing the opportunity to ask questions of the poet.

Measurable Outcome(s)

Participant responses from the poetry workshops:
"Helps you think differently and be confident to write without worrying about what anyone else is doing."
"The poets were very interesting. Their poems were extremely good! Really enjoyed it! Loved the class!"
"I wasn’t real gung ho about poetry, but Sheila and Michelle did a great job. The first several writing exercises “set the hook” and I was caught."
"Different aspects of the sense of “place” in our lives—fascinating poems from Michelle Matthees about Duluth’s East Hillside, and Sheila Packa’s years on the Range and the idea of the place of nature. "
"I was reminded that much poetry grows from common place experiences."
"There are very talented poets in MN that keep working hard and writing amazing poetry."

Source of Additional Funds

Arrowhead Library System and the regional Arrowhead Libraries listed under “Date of Program.” The Spirit Lake Poetry Series sponsored the bulk of Ms. Valentine’s travel and fees (amassing to ~$4,000 +). They also obtained the venue, coordinated, and marketed the event. The Spirit Lake Poetry Series covered the bulk of the fees and travel for the poet panel event.

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Arrowhead Library System
Street Address
5528 Emerald Avenue
Mt. Iron
Zip Code
(218)741-3840 Ext. 230
Administered By
Administered by

1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113-4266