Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016: The Year in Northfield Poetry

Sidewalk Poetry. In 2016, nine new poems were added to Northfield sidewalks as part of the Northfield Sidewalk Poetry project. Reconstruction of Woodley Street between Division and Prairie Streets provided nearly a mile and a half of new sidewalk for poetry. 41 poems were installed along Woodley Street. The 2016 winning poets were Barbara Belobaba, Becky Boling, Julia Braulick, Steve McCown, Orick Peterson, Anne Running Sovick, Lori Stoltz, and Richard Waters.

Poetry Out Loud. In March, Arcadia Charter School student Anna Kochever was one of the top six finalists in the 2016 Poetry Out Loud state championship, held at The Loft in Minneapolis. Poetry Out Loud is an annual poetry recitation competition for high school students, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. More than a dozen Arcadia students participated in the local competition. 

Poem in Your Pocket Day. On April 21, during National Poetry Month, Northfield again celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day. Boxes full of poems were available at local businesses, some of whom offered discounts for customers who shared a poem. In 2017, Poem in Your Pocket Day will be on Thursday, April 20.

TORCH Poetry Slam. The second annual TORCH Poetry Slam took place in December. This year’s winners were Chris Lazaro (third place), Delina Haileab (second place), and Alondra Perez Gonzalez (first place).

Poetry Nights at ContentContent Bookstore hosted nine Poetry Nights in 2016 (January-June, October-December). Poets featured were Susan Jaret McKinstry, Greg Hewett, Kaethe Schwehn, Leslie Schultz, Freya Manfred, Ken McCullough, and the winners of Arcadia’s Poetry Out Loud Competition and the 2015 TORCH Poetry Slam. The June 2016 Poetry Night was a bilingual reading of poems of Pablo Neruda.

New Books. Two Northfield poets published books of poetry in 2016: 
  • Leslie Schultz, Still Life with Poppies: Elegies (Aldrich Press)
  • Kaethe Schwehn, Tanka & Me: Poems (Brain Mill Press/Mineral Point Poetry Series)
Contest Winners. Two Northfield poets won contests in 2016:
Northfield Poet Laureate. In September, the Northfield Public Library selected Rob Hardy to serve a three-year term as Northfield’s first Poet Laureate. In November, the Northfield Public Library received a $9,600 grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) to support the Poet Laureate program. Rob read poems in September at the annual Joseph Lee Heywood graveside service, the dedication of Wheeler Park, and the community celebration of the U.N. International Day of Peace. In November, he read a poem at the opening of a City Council meeting. He also worked with students in several classes at Northfield High School, hosted nine Poetry Nights at Content, and created and administered the Northfield Poet Laureate Facebook page.


The Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) has provided a grant for this project thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund made possible by the voters of Minnesota.

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