Friday, March 02, 2012

Accomplished Wisconsin poet at Oshkosh Public Library for workshop, reading

Ordinary prose will give way to a day of poetry on Tues., Feb. 28, when the Oshkosh Public Library welcomes Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Bruce Dethlefsen, for a special workshop and evening poetry reading.

Local poets and the general public are invited to a reading by Dethlefsen, an award-winning poet, at 6:30 p.m., in the library’s lower level meeting room. An open mic session will follow the reading, offering local writers the opportunity to share their work.

“Poetry readings allow us to celebrate the music of the spoken word, give us pause to reflect, and help us pay creative attention to our lives and our loves,” Dethlefsen says.

He explains the continuing appeal of poetry. “Poets pay attention and ask not only the big questions but help us understand the little celebrations in our lives,” he says. “Poetry, much like music, is artistic expression and it's the arts that make us human.”

Dethlefsen has published two poetry chap books and Breather (Fireweed Press, 2009), a full-length poetry book which received an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the prestigious small-press literary award, in 2003 and 2009. His latest book is Unexpected Shiny Things, released in fall 2011 from Cowfeather Press.

Dethlefsen’s poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s "The Writer’s Almanac" and "Your Daily Poem." A retired educator and public library director, he lives in Westfield, WI.

Earlier in the day on Feb. 28, Dethlefsen will conduct a poetry workshop at the library. The workshop is full, but names are being taken for a waiting list at 236-5205. During the workshop, Dethlefsen will lead a conversation about a variety of poems, discuss what makes a good poem and conduct hands-on exercises.

The position of poet laureate was created by Gov. Tommy Thompson in 2000 and is selected based on the recommendation of the Poet Laureate Commission of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Poet Laureate acts as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity. The position has been supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Letters, Arts and Science since May 2011, when state support was discontinued.

“We’re lucky in Wisconsin to have a poet laureate, an ambassador for the arts, someone to give people, young and old, permission to be artists and to express themselves,” Dethlefsen says.

Since being appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010, Dethlefsen has worked to encourage and support local cultural and creative talent by organizing local poetry readings in public libraries, schools and coffee houses throughout the state.

The Feb. 28 event is co-sponsored by the Oshkosh Public Library and the Apple Blossom Poetry Group. Apple Blossom Poets meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at Apple Blossom Books, 200 City Center.

For more information about this event or other library programs and activities, call 236-5205 or visit



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