The Milwaukee Poet Laureate project was initiated in February 2000, is sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library and supported by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library. The project is funded by a contribution from the Harry F. and Mary Franke Idea Fund.
The project committee selects a local poet to serve as Milwaukee Poet Laureate for a two-year term. The poet laureate makes several guest appearances during the term, promoting poetry throughout the community.
Jim Chapson was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1944, and educated at San Francisco State University. He has lived in Milwaukee since 1976, and teaches creative writing at UWM. His most recent books are Daphnis & Ratboy, Scholia, and Plotinus Blushed (Arlen House, 2013). He has poems in the recent anthology Jack London is Dead: Contemporary Euro-American Poetry of Hawai'i (Tinfish Press, 2013).
He has neither a dog nor a cat; neither tropical fish nor parakeets. He has never held an elective office, and for as far back as he can remember he has not been living in Paris. Read some of his poetry.
March 17, 7:30 p.m.
Reading at "Poet's Monday"
Linneman's - 1001 E. Locust St.
April 1, 7 p.m.
Reading at Cafe Hollander on Downer
Part of the Eat Local: Read Local poetry reading.
April 10, 6 p.m.
Haggerty Museum, Marquette Univ.
with Wendy Vardaman (Madison Poet Laureate) and Tyler Farrell.
April 12, 7 p.m.
Reading at Woodland Pattern
with Lew Ellingham, a significant figure in the "San Francisco Renaissance," and author (with Kevin Killian) of "Poet Be Like God"--a biography of Jack Spicer
April 13, 1:00 p.m.
Reading / book launch (Plotinus Blushed) American Conference for Irish Studies Chicago Marriott Downtown
April 16, 12:30 p.m.
Library Grind Coffeehouse at UWM,
Golda Meier Library
Part of the Student/Faculty poetry reading series.
June 21, 7:00 p.m.
Reading / book launch (Plotinus Blushed) Woodland Pattern Bookstore Milwaukee
Reading / book launch (Plotinus Blushed) Dublin Writers' Centre ?
Jeff Poniewaz got his B.A. and M.A. in English from UW-Milwaukee, where between 1989 and 2009 he taught "Literature of Ecological Vision," a course he devised to fill a gap in the Literature curriculum. His eco-activism spans from local urban greenspace struggles to the global rainforest catastrophe.
His poems have appeared in Earth First!, Greenpeace Chronicles,Los Angeles Times, Blake Times, Exquisite Corpse, Viet Nam Generation, New York Quarterly, The Sun and numerous other periodicals. His collection of eco-poems spanning 1975-82, Dolphin Leaping in the Milky Way (Inland Ocean Books, 1986), was praised by Allen Ginsberg for its "impassioned prescient ecological Whitmanesque/Thoreauvian verve and wit." He won a 1987 "Discovery Award" from PEN, the international writers organization. A volume of his Selected Poems will be published in fall 2013.
In addition to the Eco Lit course he began teaching in 1989, in 1999 he began teaching a course on Whitman and subsequent poets inspired by Whitman. He has taught "Poetry of Wilderness" at Esalen Institute and has taught and performed poetry at the Kerouac Poetics School in Colorado, Antioch College in Ohio and The Clearing in Door County. He taught Intro to Creative Writing at UWM in the early 1970s and did Poets-in-the-School residencies at high schools and junior highs across Wisconsin during the’70s and ‘80s.
Jeff founded the Earth Poets & Musicians group that has given annual Earth Day performances since 1988. He is fond of the fact that Poetry Month and Earth Day month coincide. He was given an Earth Guardian Award at Milwaukee's Earth Day 2000.
In March 1997 the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed the special "Song of the Rainforest" concert he brainstormed, consisting of great but neglected rainforest-inspired music, to draw attention to the global rainforest crisis. He’s been credited with originating the idea of a Milwaukee River Nature Park, now officially designated as the Milwaukee River Greenway.
Saturday, March 22, 2 p.m.
Loos Room of Centennial Hall, 733 N. 8th St.
A contemporary and friend of Gandhi and sometimes referred to as “the Whitman of India,” Tagore is India’s best-loved poet and its best-loved poet around the world. In addition, he wrote stories, plays and over a thousand songs, and also created paintings later in life. Winning the
1913 Nobel Prize in Literature, he was the first non-European to receive that honor. First editions of Tagore’s books and other rare Tagore items will be on view in a display case on the second floor of Central Library all through the month of March.
This Tagore celebration will culminate in a special event at which there will be a special screening of Tagore, a documentary by Satyajit Ray, followed by a performance of Tagore’s poetry by current Milwaukee Poet Laureate Jeff Poniewaz and former Milwaukee Poet Laureate Antler and members of Milwaukee’s Bengali community who will also play and sing a few of Tagore’s songs.