poetry

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This week we're exploring stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. Today we have a poem from Marquette resident Russell Thornburn, the first Upper Peninsula poet laureate.

This poem is from a series called "Burden of Place," about surviving the cold UP winters.

This poem is called, "When One Tugs at a Single Thing in Nature, He Finds It Attached to the Rest of the World." It's about a man who is stuck in the cold after his car breaks down.  

Cover of The Complete Poetry: Cesar Vallejo
University of California Press

Forty-five years.

That’s how long it took Clayton Eshleman to translate the complete poetry of renowned Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo.

Eshleman is professor emeritus in the English department at Eastern Michigan University. He is a poet and a translator. His decades of work have become a book titled "The Complete Poetry: Cesar Vallejo."

Vallejo was born in the Peruvian Andes more than a century ago and died in 1938 at age 46. Eshleman says the terribly hard life Vallejo led still holds some key lessons today.

“A poet must learn how to become imprisoned in global life as a whole, and in each moment in particular,” says Eshleman.

Reflecting on his own undertaking over the decades, Eshleman says he was surprised that he had the stamina to do this, and he had no idea his "Vallejo journey" would involve a frustrating nine months in Lima, Peru, and a decade of rewording old translations.

“When you take on one of these big projects, you learn things about yourself, and about your commitment to the art, and what poetry can be,” says Eshleman.

*Listen to our conversation with Clayton Eshleman above.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The 17th annual International Youth Poetry Slam festival is in Philadelphia this week.

Flint is sending a team made up entirely of high school girls.

They’ve been practicing for months, writing poetry from their own lives about things like family, abuse, mental illness, and love.

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(Editor's note: This interview was first broadcast on October 28th, 2013)

Take poetry and the spoken word.

Mix in two stories of redemption.

Stir in a meeting at a Poetry Slam.

And top it with a poem about Michigan.

Do all of that, and you have Kinetic Affect. They are a spoken-word performing duo from Kalamazoo. And maybe you've seen their performance of "The Michigan Poem" making its way around the web: their straight from the heart poem about what it means to be from Michigan.

The Kinetic Affect duo Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron joined us today from Kalamazoo.

Listen to the full interview above.

Prescription-free emergency contraception is supposed to be available over-the-counter, across the country, for women of all ages.

But, for some, where you live matters. On today's show we found out about the uneven access to Plan B in Native American communities.

And the Yankee Air Museum has been given more time as it tries to save part of an historic factory. Will the Willow Run bomber plant be saved?

And we met a woman using graffiti in a very unique way.

Have you heard “The Michigan Poem?” We spoke to the Kalamazoo performance duo who wrote it.

Also, we took a look at child passenger safety laws and how to keep kids safe during car rides.

First on the show, we turned to Detroit's Mayoral election. Voters in Michigan's largest city will head to the polls one week from tomorrow.

Within that race for Mayor  is the issue of race. There is a white candidate: Mike Duggan - former Detroit Medical Center CEO, and a black candidate: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

As part of the Detroit Free Press' endorsement of a Mayoral candidate, our next guest penned yesterday's column in the Freep about the complex role that race is playing in this election.

Stephen Henderson is the Editorial Page Editor for the Detroit Free Press, and he joined us today.

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In the entire history of Michigan, there has been only one state poet laureate: Edgar Guest.

But, the Upper Peninsula can boast of having a poet laureate. Recent voting in a grassroots campaign gave that honor to Russell Thorburn.

Russell Thorburn joined us today to talk about what this honor means to him professionally and personally.

Listen to the full interview above.

On today’s show we explored the differences residents in the UP have as compared with "trolls," you know, residents under the Mackinac Bridge.

How do perspectives about our state change depending on where we live?

And, we got the story behind Banner Gibson guitars in Kalamazoo and the women who made them.

Also, the UP’s own poet laureate joined us to talk about the rise in regional poet laureates, as well as what that honor means to him.

First on the show, as you've likely heard by now, a state election panel will have to decide the official outcome of Detroit's mayoral primary. That's because Wayne County's election board refused to certify the election. It should be noted that the county election board acted on the very last day before the deadline to certify the election.

The controversy centers on some 20,000 write-in votes that may have been incorrectly marked by Detroit poll workers.

Former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan appeared to win the primary handily over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.

Despite running as a write-in candidate, Duggan won by about 16 points, according to unofficial results.

But if these almost 20,000 write-in votes get thrown out, the two winners would switch places, with  Napoleon coming out on top, and former Detroit Medical Center Mike Duggan finishing second.

Whatever the outcome, Duggan and Napoleon will face off in November.

But this drama raises many concerns, including the ability of Detroit poll workers to do their jobs properly, whether there needs to be a recount, and whether---as suggested by Benny Napoleon--the U.S. Department of Justice needs to babysit the big November election.

Jocelyn Benson, interim dean of Wayne State University's law school and an expert in Michigan's constitutional and election law, joined us today to help us sort this all out.

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Across the world ancient cultures built impressive stone circles, think Stonehenge in England, the Dromberg Stone Circle in West Cork Ireland, or the stone circle at Beaver Island.

No one knows exactly their significance. But, whether they were used as burials, for community gatherings or connected to agricultural events, like the summer solstice, people will always wonder why they exist.

Today, stone circles have appeared across the U.S., mainly to pay homage to our ancient ancestors. And, one of those exists here in Michigan.

Poet and educator Terry Wooten built his own stone circle nearly 30 years ago, designed to capture the atmosphere of ancient cultures. It's located north of Traverse City.

Terry joined us today to tell us all about it.

For more information, visit Terry's website: http://terry-wooten.com/

Listen to the full interview above.

The U.S. Postal Service is paying homage to the world of poetry with ten new commemorative stamps.

Two Michigan poets will be featured on the new Forever stamps: Theodore Roethke, a Saginaw native and Pulitzer Prize winning poet; and Robert Hayden, a Detroit poet, and the first black poet laureate of the United States.

Alison Swan

Alison Swan is a poet and an award winning environmentalist. She's adjunct professor at Western Michigan University.

Not too long ago Swan published her first collection of poetry, Dog Heart. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White sat down with Swan to talk about the new book.

Swan says she finds her inspiration from the wild places of Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Madgett.

Listen to the interview.

The 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Award goes to Naomi Long Madgett.

She’s an award winning poet, editor, and educator. She’s often called the godmother of African-American poetry.

Dr. Madgett says the award came as a complete surprise because she didn’t even know she was being considered for the award.

“So it means a great deal to me that I can be alive to realize that my life’s work has had some positive effect on other people’s lives,” she tell Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White.

Every week on What’s Working, we take a look at people and organizations that are changing lives in Michigan for the better.

The Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation in Detroit has been around for 75 years. People who work at the foundation describe it as a center for creative aging, an opportunity for seniors to learn new ways to creatively express themselves as they grow older.

Christina Shockely, host of Michigan Radio's Morning Edition, spoke with Rachel Jacobsen, the community development coordinator at the foundation.

Jacobsen said that proactive aging allows seniors "to exercise the more creative parts of their minds and bodies in ways that help them age well and also, hopefully, continue to develop into old age."

Frances Levine / Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Detroit native Philip Levine is the country’s new poet laureate.

Levine was born in Detroit in 1928. As a student, he worked a number of jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, and he translated his experience into poetry. His poems depict life in Detroit and the working class in general.

"What Work Is" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

"They Feed They Lion" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

User b talbot / Flickr

Patricia Clark is an award-winning poet, and the former Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids. When I asked her to participate in our web-exclusive “Michigan on the Page” series, Ms. Clark chose a certain author’s first story collection, a writer who—like many recent college graduates—has made her way out of the state to advance her career.

Ms. Clark first encountered Suzanne Rivecca at Grand Valley State University, where she was, Ms. Clark insists, the most talented student she has seen there.