Peninsula Poetry: Francha Barnard

compiled by the Door County Poets Collective

Francha Barnard of Baileys Harbor has been active in the Door County poetry community since she arrived as a full-time resident in 2006, following her retirement as an elementary school librarian in Sheboygan. That retirement also marked the start of Barnard’s more serious attention to writing poetry. During her teaching years, she ran creative-writing groups for third- through fifth-grade writers, concentrating on short stories, essays and poetry, but she didn’t write often herself.

Word Women, a Northern Door critiquing group, formed in 2006, and a friend in the poetry community recommended Barnard as a member – a step that launched her regular writing and public reading. After that came planning the Meadows Gallery’s annual April poetry and art show with curator Tom Seagard. 

Barnard also runs the Local Lines at the Library poetry-posting board in the Baileys Harbor Library and has, for the past four years, led Write On’s Art/Speaks ekphrastic poetry writing outreach program at Edgewood Orchard Galleries, Margaret Lockwood Gallery and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship’s gallery.

Barnard’s poetry regularly appears in the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ calendar, for which she and Estella Lauter were co-editors in 2017. Barnard is also a contributing co-editor of the anthology Soundings: Door County in Poetry and was the poetry winner of the 2010 Hal Prize for her poem “Weavers,” which appears below.  


(for the Hickey Brothers fishermen)

They stand side by side

in the low-ceilinged shack;

two strong young men

practicing an old man’s art.

Net pulled to line,

hold tight,

over, around and through.

Gossamer nets hang low between them.

Two taut nylon lines stretch

waist-high through the room

attached to opposite walls.

Ten phrases of six,

then three on the float,

over, around and through.

Bobbins in hand, they snail-pace backwards,

catch net to line and tie it tight,

eyes never lifting; rhythm unbroken,

hours a day; days for weeks.

Ten phrases of six,

then three on the lead,

over, around and through.

Summertime catchers of fish;

wintertime menders of nets,

from their deft hands grow new webs:

Arachne’s opus before Athena’s ire.

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 (Caravaggio Press, 2015) and continues to meet.