Words On Fire

Spoken words and music will feed off one another during the second annual “Words On Fire” musician and poet performance at Door Community Auditorium (DCA) on Saturday, Feb. 28.

A part of DCA’s Fireside Coffeehouse Concert Series, “Words On Fire” will find musicians pairing with poets to create a true coffeehouse atmosphere. In the words of the auditorium, “Nothing decaf here, just great music and verse presented by some of Door County’s finest.”

The event was inspired by a performance at the first Play It Forward Benefit Concert in 2013. Door Community Auditorium’s Executive Director Cari Lewis recalls the moment local poet Ralph Murre took the stage with guitarist Jay Whitney and the duo performed a largely improvised spoken word and music piece.

“Their number was amazing and haunting,” Lewis says. “It was easy to imagine the duo performing in the hippest beat café from the 1960s.”

Play It Forward Benefit Concert organizers Pete Thelen and Thor Thoreson, along with Lewis, immediately recognized how a night of poet and musician pairings could fit into DCA’s programming, particularly the Fireside Coffeehouse Concert Series.

Door County poet Nancy Rafal agreed to coordinate and emcee the first event in 2014 and, with input from the local poetry community, named the event “Words On Fire.” Despite a winter snowstorm, the inaugural event was a success.

This year’s event will include poets Cathryn Cofell, Bruce Dethlefsen, Mike Koehler, Caleb Whitney, Mike Orlock, Katie Lott, June Nirschl, Rolf Olson, Sharon Auberle, Pete Thelen and Ralph Murre. The musicians slated for the Feb. 28 event include Rob Atwood, Steve Lavell, Adrian Webber, Luanne Western, Tad Gilster, Nick Orlock, John Orlock, Bill Orth and Tim Kay.

According to Murre, who put together this year’s slate of poets (Thelen organized the musicians), this year’s program includes a wide range of style and genres coming from individuals whose backgrounds are as varied as their poetry and musical styles.

“Our number includes teachers, veterans, a fire chief, a development specialist, an architect,” Murre says. “Boat builders, gardeners, a bus driver, a cab driver, a realtor and someone who once worked at the Fermi Lab.”

There will also be a former Wisconsin Poet Laureate, several Pushcart prize nominees, a first place winner of the Wisconsin People & Ideas prize for poetry, and several award winners in the Peninsula Pulse’s Hal Prize contests.

Words On Fire begins at 7pm on Saturday, Feb. 28. Coffeehouse concerts are $15, general admission; advance ticket reservations are suggested. Door Community Auditorium is located on Highway 42 in Fish Creek. For more information, call 920.868.2728 or visit