Duluth Poets Laureate Reading Series

A reading series at the University of Minnesota Duluth will showcase poets who have served in the role of Duluth Poet Laureate.

The first reading will be Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 6-8 p.m., at UMD’s Kathryn A. Martin Library rotunda. Two more readings take place the following Wednesdays, through October 19.

This retrospective project, celebrating the Duluth Poets Laureate, will feature each Poet Laureate reading from their own work. They will share the stage with a younger poet, drawing attention to the next generation of diverse and engaging writers.

Additionally, poets from the Minnesota League of Poets, Duluth Poetry Chapter, will be present to host the events.

This free event is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Imagine Fund, the Kathryn A. Martin Library, and the Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies.

For more information, contact David Beard at

Announcing Our “Second Sunday” Reading Series

September through November 2020

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project announces the “Second Sunday Reading Series,” three online open poetry readings organized by Gary Boelhower, 2018-2020 Duluth Poet Laureate. The monthly readings will take place from 3-4 p.m. on Sunday afternoons: September 13, October 11, and November 8.

Each month’s reading will feature two local poets whose presentations will be followed by an open reading. The reading on September 13 will feature Phil Fitzpatrick and Daniel Oyinloye; October 11 will feature Deborah Cooper and John Herold; and the reading on November 8 will feature Sheila Packa and Blair Powless.

All three poetry readings will be offered through the ZOOM online video communications technology. The public is invited to view the readings through a ZOOM online portal; please register for one, two, or all the programs with Gary Boelhower through email, Poets who wish to participate in the open reading segment should contact Gary with the date they wish to be placed on the program.

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project began in 2005 and is funded by donations from the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, Lake Superior Writers, Lake Superior College, the English departments at the College of Saint Scholastica and the University of Minnesota Duluth, and by generous individuals. The Zeitgeist Community Arts Center is the fiscal sponsor. 

Indigenous Peoples Poetry Reading

Please join us on Sunday afternoon, October 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. for an indigenous peoples poetry reading featuring Linda LeGarde Grover, Kimberly Blaeser, Babette Sandman, and Rocky Makes Room for Them. Music will be provided by Lyz Jaakola. The event takes place at the Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center, 202 W. 2nd St., Duluth.

Organized by Duluth Poet Laureate Gary Boelhower, the event includes an invitation for other indigenous people to share a poem or two as part of the open mic portion of the event. Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served, and books by the poets will be available for purchase. For further information, please contact Gary Boelhower,

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, Lake Superior Writers, the English departments at UMD and CSS, and Lake Superior College. Please visit

“Poets on the Water” Poetry Reading

Sunday, August 25, 2 to 4 p.m.

Please join us for a poetry reading, “Poets on the Water,” on Sunday, August 25, 2 to 4 p.m. in the Upper Commons area, First Lutheran ELCA, 1100 E. Superior Street, Duluth.

Organized by Duluth Poet Laureate Gary Boelhower, the event will feature readings by Ryan Vine, Ann Glumac, and Shelley Getten. Music will be provided by Dave Winchester. Other readers are invited to sign up at the event for the open mic portion of the program.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available.

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project is cosponsored by the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, Lake Superior Writers, Lake Superior College, and the English departments at UMD and the College of Saint Scholastica.

For further information, contact Gary Boelhower at

Walt Whitman at 200:

A Birthday Party

Walt Whitman portrait

Please join us on Friday evening, May 31, from 7 to 9 p.m., for a celebration of American poet Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday. 

Organized by Duluth Poet Laureate Gary Boelhower, the event “Walt Whitman at 200: A Birthday Party with Poetry Readings, Presentations, and Cake” will take place at Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Ave., Duluth, and will feature readings by Duluth Poets Laureate Bart Sutter, Deborah Cooper, Sheila Packa, Ellie Schoenfeld, and Gary Boelhower; presentations by Mara Hart, Professor John D. Schwetman, and Professor Chris Johnson; and book sales of recently published anthologies.

The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

For additional information, contact Gary Boelhower,

Poetry Writing Workshop

Duluth Poet Laureate Gary Boelhower will offer a poetry writing workshop on Saturday, May 11, 2019, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the Peace Church Fireside Room, 1111 North 11th Ave. E., Duluth.

“Weaving the Threads of Good Poetry” will explore essential elements of good poetry–imagery, metaphor, sound, and rhythm. The workshop will analyze examples of these elements to deepen our appreciation and understanding of how they work together in a poem. Participants will play with language, walk around in metaphor, and practice centering attention. Several writing prompts will be offered along with time to write and the opportunity to share for those who wish.

Writers at all levels are welcome. Registration is limited to 20 participants. Registration fee: $25.00 (scholarships are available). If you have questions or to register, please email or call Gary at 218-724-4985.  

Gary Boelhower Inaugural Reading & Crowning Ceremony

Please join us for the inaugural poetry reading and crowning ceremony for Gary Boelhower, the 2018-20 Duluth Poet Laureate. The event will take place on Sunday, December 2, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Peace United Church of Christ, 1111 N. 11th Ave. E., Duluth. The event is free and open to the public; there will be refreshments as well as books and CDs available for purchase.

Boelhower will be accompanied by violinist Sara Pajunen, an award-winning musician, composer, and sound artist based in Duluth. She has released six albums in connection with her Finnish ancestry. Pajunen was the 2015-16 Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year.

Boelhower will organize three public events in 2019: an Indigenous Poetry Reading (April), Poets on the Water (Summer), and a Young Poets Reading (October). He is also organizing LOCAL FREE POETRY—to distribute poetry by local poets at area restaurants, coffee shops, and bookstores.

Local Free Poetry Project

As the new Duluth Poet Laureate, Gary Boelhower is working on a project to make LOCAL FREE POETRY available on counters at restaurants, coffee shops, and book stores, for starters. The plan is to have vinyl display holders filled with poems from local poets.

Poets are needed to provide poems (which can be previously published or unpublished) and to serve as caretakers of the displays. If you are interested in being part of the LOCAL FREE POETRY project and for more information about the specifics of this project, email Boelhower at

Dancing to Poetry

“Wordy Dancing,” a poetry & dance performance, was presented on Sunday evening, May 20, 7:30 pm. at the Weber Music Hall, UMD campus.

The event was created and organized by Duluth Poet Laureate Ellie Schoenfeld as the final presentation of her term (2016-18).

The following dancers and poets performed:

“Paso Adelante/Move Forward” – poet Elena Suarez

Choreographer/Dancer – Naomi Christenson

“Wind Dancers” – poet Alice Marks

Choreographer/Dancer – Brigette Eckwood

Dancers – Majur Atraktion Dance Team

“Folk Dancing after Forty Years” – poet Deborah Rasmussen

Choreographer/Dancer – Rebecca Katz Harwood

“Migration … or I am Here” – poet Ann Floreen Niedringhaus

Choreographers/Dancers – entire ensemble

“Knowing the Way” – poet Diana Randolph

Choreographers/Dancers – Annette Strom and Susan Ranfranz

Dancers – Deneice Kramer, Jennifer Lewandowski

“Cluster Flies” – poet Lucy Tyrrell

Choreographer/Dancer – Doris Ressl Acosta

“Riding” – poet Shelley Getten

Choreographer/Dancer – Doris Ressl Acosta

Collaborative Dancer – Naomi Christenson

This event was hosted by the English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies Department and the College of Liberal Arts at UMD. The Duluth Poet Laureate Project and the event are supported by the Friends of the Duluth Public Library, the Arrowhead Reading Council, Lake Superior Writers, Lake Superior College, the English department at the College of Saint Scholastica, Locally Laid Egg Company, At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe, Zenith Bookstore, Adeline Inc., Kyle Leia Yoga, Alakef Coffee Roasters, Builders Commonwealth, and Red Herring Lounge.

There will be refreshments.  Signed copies of a set of books by Duluth Poet Laureates will be available for purchase (5 books for $50) as a fundraiser for the Duluth Poet Laureate Project.

A $10 donation at the door is suggested.

For more information, please call 218-724-1653.

“Wordy Dancing” continues a tradition of Duluth poets working in collaboration with other artists, such as previous “Note-worthy” events that featured music inspired by poetry.

Gallery of Wordy Dancing

Photos by Kelly Randolph

“Life in a Body” Poetry Reading

Duluth Poet Laureate Ellie Schoenfeld hosted a poetry reading on the theme of “Life in a Body,” Sunday afternoon, November 12, 2 to 4 p.m., at the Quaker Meeting House, 18th Ave. E. and First St., Duluth.

Four participating readers shared selections from their newest publications: Deborah Cooper, Gary Boelhower, Max Garland, and Duluth Youth Poetry Crew (ARE). Local musician Jim Hall provided music.

This event was organized by Duluth Poet Laureate Ellie Schoenfeld and was free and open to the public. Refreshments were served, and books could be purchased from the participating readers.

The Duluth Poet Laureate Project is co-sponsored by Friends of the Duluth Public Library, Arrowhead Reading Council, Zeitgeist Arts Cafe, Lake Superior Writers, Lake Superior College, and the English departments at UMD and the College of Saint Scholastica.

For additional information, please call 218-724-1653.

Dedication of the Connie Wanek Wildflower Trail

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson read a proclamation honoring August 26 as Connie Wanek Day, and Duluth Poet Laureate Ellie Schoenfeld hosted the dedication of a wildflower trail in honor of Connie at Duluth’s Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Avenue.

  • Saturday, August 26, 2017
  • 2-4 P.M.

The trail features posted excerpts from six beloved Connie Wanek verses as well as native wildflowers to delight visitors.

Connie Wanek’s first book, Bonfire, won the New Voices Award and was published in 1997 by New Rivers Press. Her second, Hartley Field, appeared in 2002 from Holy Cow! Press. On Speaking Terms, her third book, was released in 2010 by Copper Canyon Press. Her newest book of poetry is Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems, published by University of Nebraska Press, the second in the Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series.

Connie Wanek

In 2006, US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser named her a Witter Bynner Fellow of the Library of Congress. She also served as a co-editor with Joyce Sutphen and Thom Tammaro on the comprehensive anthology, To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present, which appeared in 2007 from New Rivers Press, and which has won several awards. In 2014 she published a book of prose, ten stories, called Summer Cars with Will o’ the Wisp Press. Wanek was deeply honored to receive the George Morrison Artist of the Year Award in 2009, which recognizes an individual artist whose body of work has made a significant contribution to the arts in Northeastern Minnesota.

Hartley is a 660-acre city park “filled with woods, trails, critters, ponds and views,” with 10 miles of multi-use trails. Now one of those trails will offer some of the best poetry ever written in Duluth, Minnesota.

Readings from Seven Nations

Ellie Schoenfeld, Duluth’s current Poet Laureate, hosts an open-mic reading on Monday, April 3, 6:30-8:30 p.m., celebrating the poetry of writers from the predominantly Muslim countries impacted by the recent travel ban.

This open-mic event celebrates the poetry of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Because poetry knows no boundaries.

When Trump’s executive order temporarily blocked travel and immigration to the United States by people from seven countries in the Middle East, a Tehran-born poet named Kaveh Akbar began tweeting poetry written by poets from those countries, as reported by PBS Newshour. He explained that he was moved to share the “gorgeousness and beauty” of their voices.

Come to the Kathryn A. Martin Library‘s 4th floor Rotunda to listen to and share your love and gratefulness for poetry that knows no boundaries. The Library and the UMD Department of English are co-hosting this event with the Duluth Poet Laureate Project in recognition of National Poetry Month.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available.

The Poet Laureate Project is co-sponsored by Friends of the Duluth Public Library, Lake Superior Writers, Arrowhead Reading Council, Minnesota Public Radio, Zeitgeist Arts Cafe, the English departments at UMD and CSS, and Lake Superior College.

For additional information, contact Charlene Brown at (218) 726-8539.

Opening for Mayor Emily Larson’s
State of the City Address

  • Monday, March 20, 2017
  • 5:30 p.m.
  • Lincoln Park Middle School auditorium, 3215 West 3rd St., Duluth

Ellie Schoenfeld read a poem to open Duluth Mayor Emily Larson’s second State of the City address. Mayor Larson reported on her first year in office and laid out her vision for the upcoming year.

Chamber Orchestra Hosts Duluth Poets Laureate

Past Poets Laureate of Duluth were invited to read at an event on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017,  at 3:00 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Duluth Depot. The program, part of the DSSO Chamber Music Series, featured the poetry of present and past Poets Laureate of Duluth interspersed with musical performances by members of the DSSO Chamber Orchestra.

Duluth SSO Chamber Music Series
Winter Notes

Saturday, February 4
3:00 p.m.

The Great Hall
506 W. Michigan St.
Duluth, MN

Dirk Meyer, Conductor

Featuring Three Poets Laureate of Duluth

  • Deborah Cooper
  • Barton Sutter
  • Ellie Schoenfeld

The Chamber Orchestra performed

  • Griffes: “Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes”
  • Gergamo: “Piru Bole”
  • Ravel: “Sonata for Violin and Cello”
  • Turina: “La Oracion del Torero (The Bullfighter’s Prayer)”