Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry in 2015 and continues to meet.
Upon moving to Door County in 2012, Donna Johnson quickly took advantage of the abundant arts community. She often calls Door County a “wellspring of creativity” and claims there is something in the water!She sought out Irish musicians, then started participating in seisuns (Irish music jam sessions), barn/contra dances and private gigs playing the bodhran (pronounced bow-ron), the Irish flat drum. Johnson volunteers at several theater and performance venues and has performed in productions with Isadoora Theater, Rogue Theater, Third Avenue Playhouse, Door Shakespeare and Theater M. She sings in two choirs and is a member of Belles Lettres, a poetry writing group.
What’s your writing routine?
I am not a very disciplined writer but would like to get into more of a routine. I will write down phrases or events that inspire me to use later, sometimes use prompts and sometimes use angel cards to stimulate writing.
What do most poorly written poems have in common? What do most well-written poems have in common?
Poetry is very personal and means different things to different people. I believe poetry should be accessible to all, meaning that it should be relatable, not too obscure. It also should elicit an emotional response, a memory or some kind of connection with the reader or listener.
Is it important to understand the meaning of the poem or for the reader to be able to “solve” it?
Not necessarily. I feel that one can be moved by the beauty and crafting of the words without understanding the poem.
What book are you reading right now?
I often listen to books and am currently listening to the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn and am awaiting a copy of the book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson.
"Mornings After" Leaving the restaurant I stop, survey the scene, squint-eyed and dismayed. With a sigh I trudge wearily through the swirling snow and ice crystals, hit the unlock button to my car and am puzzled when my tugging doesn’t produce an open door. Then with a crackle and a pop, my ice-encrusted car yields, welcoming me to its inner sanctum. But sanctuary must wait until I divest my car of its ice sheath. Amid the storm’s fury, wind howling in my ears, I chip, chip, chip and scrape the windows clean of the offending coating. At last I enter, settle on the sheepskin seat cover, tuck myself in, and select soothing music to accompany me on the hazardous journey. Inching down the slope of the parking lot to the slick street, I leave the relative safety of Sturgeon Bay heading north on Highway 57. The treachery of the slush/snow/ice-covered road is compounded by near white-out conditions. There is none of the usual small town comfort of driving through Institute, Valmy, Jacksonport. They stand dark and unwelcoming, chiding me for being out on this night, their “Tsk tsk tsk”-ing in rhythm with my windshield wipers. Home at last, I crunch to the outside stairs, then up to my cozy abode and the delighted greeting of my patiently-waiting dog. Retiring to my recliner, I invite Addie to join me for snuggles, and with her snoring on my lap, I drift off … Hours later, my eyes flutter open, assaulted by brightness and the scraping of a snowplow. I look out my east wall of windows, greeted by dazzling whiteness under a cerulean canopy. Sing praises for mornings after!
"Serenity at Dawn" swirling darkness churning thoughts tossed into the black cauldron of the night thick with regret the roil of what ifs if onlys dispel hope of the solace of slumber with dawn approaching I crawl to the east cloaked by the inky-ness of night yearning for the promise of light and a new day a solitary star hovers over the harbor horizon casting a gossamer thread onto the still water a beacon for the fishing boats guiding them to their catch over a bank of clouds the ever so faint emergence of light grey bleeds into black inches upward silhouettes the trees standing sentry starts a languid progression of color pale pink seeping into pastel yellow turning into sea foam green deepens to robin’s egg blue like diluted watercolors light builds intensifies crescendos pushing away the last vestiges of gloom coral wisps of clouds now dance across the turquoise morning sky an aggressive tango into the new day
"Cherries" Traveling east on Meadow I come upon a truck with a load of cherries swimming in water to protect the precious fruit. Spurts of water leap up sporadically as the truck travels the rough country road imitating their big city cousins in those fancy dancing fountains. Traces of cherries that met an untimely end at the hands of a careless driver who took a turn too quickly form an arced red swath on the pavement dashed dreams of cherry bars chopped cherry jam cherry cider cherry pie cherry salsa cherry stuffed French toast cherry bounce