The Dickinson Series – Year One

A year and a month or two ago, a group of poets were discussing an ironic fact of life in Door County. For all the people writing here, outside of National Poetry Month in April, there were relatively few occasions when poets could present their work to the public. So, Chuck Lauter came up with an the idea based on the Emerson Music Series of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County (UUFDC). Here, in part, is his first announcement of the UUFDC poetry project:

Poetry nourishes us! So who better to highlight the value of poetry than Unitarian Universalists. Our Fellowship has a number of talented poets whose work deserves to be shared and there is currently little opportunity for them to read publicly. Thus, UUFDC will launch a poetry series beginning in April, National Poetry Month. At 7 pm on the second Wednesday of each month a UUFDC member or friend will be the featured poet, reading her/his poetry for 25-30 minutes, followed by an “open mic” when poets from the audience can read 1-3 poems, occupying another 20 minutes. The reading will close with the featured poet offering several more poems.

This venture was soon dubbed The Dickinson Series. Ironically, Emily Dickinson published only seven poems in her lifetime. Once her work became more widely known, however, she, with Walt Whitman, helped to shape a truly American poetical voice.

That first Dickinson series was well received – so well that the series will be continued for another year – this time opening even more to the larger community since featured readers need not be members of the Fellowship. Another step which could bring Door County poets to an even wider audience will commemorate each series with a chapbook containing examples of the poems read throughout the year. As Lauter explains:

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County (UUFDC) Dickinson Poetry Series for 2009-2010 recently concluded and some of the poems read in the series have been collected into a chapbook entitled No Breath Is Lost. This book includes 28 poems by 12 poets. The title suggests the value of the spoken poetry in that nothing uttered is lost and the poetic qualities have been preserved for all to enjoy. The words of the chapbook title are spoken by Krishna in a poem by Henry Timm. Poets featured are Anita Beckstrom, David Clowers, Larry Eriksson, Gerri Friedberg, Hanne Gault, Phil Hansotia, Cynthia Johnson, Anya Kopischke, Estella Lauter, Rolf Olson, Henry Timm, and Thomas Toerpe. The poems reflect on the local scene, travel, language, social issues, nature and human interactions – all subjects with a long history in poetry.

Herewith a selection of poems from No Breath Is Lost.