The Twin Ports area has long been a literary center for Minnesota. Now, the history of the literary community in Duluth is open and available to researchers and readers alike in the Archives and Special Collections of the Kathryn A. Martin Library at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Poet Laureate Program is the heart of a collection of materials available to the public.
About the Poet Laureate Program
The program for the Duluth Poet Laureate created public events that celebrated poetry, including readings, classes in schools, libraries and other institutions, and more.
The program named six Poets Laureate:
- Barton Sutter, 2006-2008
- Jim Johnson, 2008-2010; 2014-2016
- Sheila Packa, 2010-2012
- Deborah Cooper, 2012-2014
- Ellie Schoenfeld, 2016-2018
- Gary Boelhower, 2018-2020
According to Jim Perlman, founder of Holy Cow! Press, “I’m grateful that this literary history of Duluth will be a resource available to all of us.” Perlman founded the poet laureate project and directed it, with a committee of supporters from nonprofits, educational institutions and volunteers, for 15 years.
About the Poet Laureate Collection
The collection contains materials from four poets during their tenure as laureate: Barton Sutter, Sheila Packa, Ellie Schoenfeld and Gary Boelhower. Materials include the poets’ applications to become laureates and ephemera from the events. For example, the placemat in the photo at the top of this post, from Sheila Packa’s “Read it and Feast” event, is a time capsule of Duluth poetry, including poems from a diverse range of Duluthians. As one ate soup, one also fed the soul.
For more information about the collection, watch the video above.
The project was a collaboration between the University of Minnesota Duluth Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies and the Archives and Special Collections of the Kathryn A. Martin Library. The Archives and Special Collections at the Kathryn A. Martin Library collects, preserves, and provides access to materials that document the history of University of Minnesota Duluth and Northeastern Minnesota. The collections include the Northeastern Minnesota Historical Collections which are on permanent loan from the St. Louis County Historical Society.
(I’ve been working on this post for two years now; this is my last post on the topic, I promise, because the project is complete!)
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