Poem: Dappled Things

Jan 26, 2017
Photocenter / Fotolia

Poet Jenny Benjamin reflects on writing poetry, spotted dogs, and the 'dappled things' that make up an average day. 

Glory be to God for dappled things…
All things counter, original, spare, strange…

- From “Pied Beauty” Gerard Manley Hopkins

For thirty-five years, Ed Block taught English at Marquette University. And though he continues at the university as a professor emeritus, his current work is more rooted in the writing world. 

The Milwaukee poet's new collection is called Anno Domini. Like much of Block's work, his new collection explores religious themes and references his Catholic beliefs.

Block believes that many poets - even those who don't ascribe to a particular religion - use spirituality as a source for their writing. 

Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Poet Jodie Hollander's aim is to make words sing, no matter where in the world she is writing them. 

Hollander was born and raised in Milwaukee. But for the past two decades, she has been traveling the world developing her craft.

Poem: Gift

Dec 6, 2016
Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia

In a city like Milwaukee, summertime brings mixed blessings. For many, summer heat means the return of festivals, outside dining, and long walks in the park. For others, it's a season rife with danger. Local poet and teacher, Jenny Benjamin, reflects on a summer night that changed her life forever. 

As both a psychologist and a poet, Sarah Rosenblatt has a unique advantage in dissecting the psyche of the average person. The family psychologist says she uses her work as a way of connecting with people, creating poems that speak to the curiousness of life and the human condition.

"I tend to write a lot about time passing, about human vulnerability, about - just the strangeness of time passing and the strangeness of kind of being alive, being human," says Sarah Rosenblatt. "That's definitely what interests me in general." 

Voyagerix / Fotolia

Have you ever been in a public space – after it’s closed to the public?  Poet and Lake Effect contributor Christianna Fritz has:

The Quiet Work

The mall is dark now,
rides folded with tentacle tucked in
brakes quiet
beast sleeping,
while something small, mouse or cockroach
scurries under a bench.

After closing time,
only the janitors make noise
swishing broom and humming vacuum,
comfortable silence of placing can in receptacle
mopping gelato from tile.

Poem: Family Camp

Sep 1, 2016
Charles Knowles / Flickr

For many of us, summer offers that rare opportunity to get away and spend some time with the people we love. You might have a special place you retreat each year.

But as Milwaukee poet Jenny Benjamin can attest – going to that special place also means you have to leave it, as well.

Poem: Chappaquiddick

Jul 11, 2016
3dmentat / Fotolia

It has been a tumultuous time in the United States, these past few days.  And it’s easy to think of ourselves on the crest of an historical wave.

But as a work by Milwaukee poet John Koethe makes clear, no one generation has a monopoly on social turmoil:

I hate believing that I grew up in a country
Better than the one I live in now. We were vaguely
Middle-class: my mother was a schoolteacher,
My father a Navy NCO, a former concert violinist

Ron Wimmer Photography

Author Kathie Giorgio will be the first to tell you that her new book of short stories are not fairytales.

The compilation, called Oddities and Endings,  includes 40 stories about unusual characters wrestling with life's difficulties. The collection is the result of work that she's published over the years in various literary magazines. 

Photo courtesy University of California-Riverside

Juan Felipe Herrera is already crisscrossing the country as the current Poet Laureate of the United States. Herrera is the son of migrant farm workers in California, and he grew up bilingual. His work traverses boundaries of all kinds, from describing the immigrant experience to taking the words off the page and creating performance art.

Herrera was in Milwaukee at the end of February to speak at the University of Wisconsin, and he explained how he first developed curiosity about poetry.

Excerpt: 'Latina Lives in Milwaukee'

Apr 28, 2016
Dennis Jarvis / Flickr

April is National Poetry Month and Lake Effect has been highlight local poets like Carmen Murguia. She shared her story of discovering her sexuality as a Mexican woman in Milwaukee in the book Latina Lives in Milwaukee by Theresa Delgadillo.

Here is an excerpt:

Poem: Para Jodi en Kansas City

Apr 21, 2016
timonko / Fotolia

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, Milwaukee poet Carmen Alicia Murguia recalls a special trip to Kansas City:

Poem: The Tenderness of Mathematics

Apr 20, 2016
Tom Brown / Flickr

April is National Poetry Month, and Lake Effect has been commemorating that observance by spotlighting some local poets and their work. "The Tenderness of Mathematics," comes from Milwaukee poet John Koethe's latest collection, The Swimmer.

God created the integers, all else is the work of man -- Leopold Kronecker

Essay: Why I Write Poetry

Apr 19, 2016
Fredrik Rubensson / Flickr

April is National Poetry Month. For the past couple weeks, Lake Effect has featured work from local poets and talked to writers about what attracted them to the art of poetry. For essayist Richard Hedderman, that's an easy answer.

But what keeps him energized about poetry? Well, that's a bit more complicated. 

 Essay: Why I Write Poetry 

Poem: Drama and Lineage

Apr 13, 2016
Jim Bauer / Flickr

My students that one April were sudden, quixotic, real.

Teaching Oedipus the King came easy,

All the late arrivals started coming on time,

And I felt like a superstar teacher,

One with an electric tote bag, armed for irony,

Greek choruses, masks that show a character’s emotion.

[Oedipus worries the fates of his daughters

Down to the bone of his eye sockets.

Who would have them?

Who would surrender to their dirty seed beds?