Karen Wilson is a lifelong Wisconsinite who grew up in Sheboygan and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Reading and writing have always been a major focus, and in 2003, she began writing poems seriously, engaging with the lively poets’ community in the county and submitting poetry for publication.
Wilson is an original member of the Door County Poets Collective, which released an anthology of Door County poems, Halfway to the North Pole, in 2020, and produced its first book of peninsula poems, Soundings, in 2015.
Sand Beach Press recently published Wilson’s own first book, Poems to the Wind.
What’s your writing routine?
I accomplish most when I sit down to write in the morning, before the needs of the day become too pressing!
What do most poorly and well-written poems have in common?
Poems that speak to me are those that strike an emotional chord or very elegantly frame the subject with precise words – not one too many!
Is it important to understand the meaning of the poem or for the reader to be able to “solve” it?
I feel that accessibility is important for a poem, though it can strike its mark with a degree of mystery.
What book are you reading right now?
I’m enjoying the late Robert Claiborne’s Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English Language. In fiction, I loved Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
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.
Seasons As autumn foretells the inevitable coming of winter I feel like the leaves losing their green loosening their hold Without regret they blaze forth in brilliant colors before they fall So much I clung to in the spring of my life such definite ideas of how things should be Now like the leaves I let go of certainty I’m shedding still until all that’s left is mystery
Scented Memories “Smell is the mute sense, the one without words.” — Diane Ackerman From my real home in the city Grandpa’s farm called me each summer to fields of waving corn and golden grain and Holstein cows, black and white standing like statues in sunny pastures studded with “cow pies” for unwary feet In the old red barn were rows of stanchions, bovines in each stall calmly munching, milk hoses flowing from their udders and long gutters behind collecting their waste, later loaded into the manure spreader pulled by Grandpa on the tractor with the luckiest girl in the world behind him on the seat
Winter Solstice Here, halfway between the equator and the north pole winter comes hard and cold biting winds chill the bone squalls of snow limit sight to a narrow perimeter and as the heavens align in a known particular way we experience the shortest day when the sun withholds its light and we have the longest night of the year a time of hunkering down staying in sleeping long the ground hard, snow-covered bare trees creak in the wind waters frozen to stillness life seems in abeyance the season ahead endless we think spring will come but it feels only a dream