Poet, author, and College of St. Scholastica professor emeritus Gary Boelhower has been selected as the 2018–2020 Duluth Poet Laureate. For the two-year post, Boelhower will organize five community events and participate in an inaugural reading and crowning ceremony on December 2, 2018, at Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E., Duluth. He will receive a $3,000 honorarium for his efforts.
The Duluth Poet Laureate Project was founded in 2005 and is overseen by a ten-person committee. Past Duluth Poet Laureates include Bart Sutter, Sheila Packa, Jim Johnson (twice), Deborah Cooper, and Ellie Schoenfeld. The project is co-sponsored by donations from local organizations such as the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, the Arrowhead Reading Council, the English departments at UMD and CSS, Lake Superior College, Minnesota Public Radio, Lake Superior Writers, and many others.
The mission of the Duluth Poet Laureate Project is to honor local poets and increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of poetry.
Gary Boelhower’s first published poem appeared in the Wisconsin State Historical Society Magazine when he was in seventh grade. It was about paper mills, not a common subject for a poem, but he grew up in Kimberly, Wisconsin, where the Kimberly Clark Corporation had one of its first mills. He’s been writing poetry since the second grade, when a teacher got him reading and reciting poems, which he says saved his life. He flunked kindergarten and first grade, but things turned around when he got into poetry.
Boelhower has published three poetry collections: Naming Rites: Poems with Holy Cow! Press in 2017, Marrow, Muscle, Flight: Poems with Wildwood River Press in 2013 (which won the Midwest Book Award), and Sacred Times, Timeless Seasons with Hi-Time Publishing in 1986. His poems have also been published in anthologies: Amethyst and Agate, The Heart of All That Is, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Beloved on the Earth, Migrations, Trail Guide to the Northland Experience in Prints and Poetry, Response, and County Lines; and in journals and magazines: America, The Freshwater Review, Lake Superior Magazine, New Millennium Writings, Northern Sounds, Out of Words, Pathways, Plainsongs, Prove, Shavings, Twyckenham Notes, and Willow Review. He was awarded the Foley Prize in poetry from America magazine and a career development grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. Boelhower is professor emeritus at The College of St. Scholastica, where he teaches courses in health humanities, ethics, spirituality, and leadership. He lives in Duluth with his spouse, Gary Anderson.
Duluth panorama photo credit: Randen Pederson