Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Time to exit Minnesota, Old Man Winter April 19, 2013

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THURSDAY EVENING, instead of following the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, I closed the curtains on a snow globe world.

Wintery weather caused Faribault High School to cancel its opening performance of “The Wizard of Oz” musical, much to my dismay. I was looking forward to the temporary evening escape into a magical world far, far away from snowy Minnesota.

It was not to be.

Rather, I was stuck in my snow encased house (OK, I’m being somewhat dramatic here), curtains drawn.

My backyard this morning with about four inches of new snow on the ground.

The beautiful view of my backyard this morning with about four inches of new snow on the ground.

This morning, when I drew back the curtains, a beautiful snowy landscape unfolded before me.

“It’s pretty,” I remarked to my husband after glimpsing the woods adjoining our backyard.

A portion of the  unshoveled sidewalk by my house, which I cleared of snow this morning.

A portion of the unshoveled sidewalk which I cleared of snow during morning “rush hour” on Willow Street.

Not so pretty were the driveway and the sidewalks. More shoveling. More blowing of snow.

My husband cleared snow from our driveway and that of a neighbor before leaving for work in Northfield.

My husband cleared snow from our driveway and that of a neighbor before leaving for work in Northfield.

Honestly, I just want the snow to stop, for Old Man Winter to take his final bow, exit and allow Spring to take center stage.

Truly, on April 19, is that really too much to ask?

A defiant Old Man Winter promises more snow for the weekend when all I want is for the snow to STOP.

A defiant Old Man Winter promises more snow for the weekend when all I want is for the snow to STOP.

BONUS SNOW PHOTOS, if you really want to see them:

I should be using this wheelbarrow in my backyard, not photographing it covered with snow.

I should be using this wheelbarrow in my backyard, not photographing it covered with snow.

My next door neighbor shovels his driveway.

My next door neighbor shovels his driveway, left, on Tower Place before 8 a.m.

I shoveled my way to the front steps to retrieve The Faribault Daily News.

I shoveled my way to the front steps to retrieve The Faribault Daily News.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating the wordful art of poetry in southeastern Minnesota

SELCO's seventh volume of Poetic Strokes.

SELCO’s seventh volume of Poetic Strokes.

POETIC STROKES. The title resonates with a graceful image of fountain pen dipped in ink sweeping words across a blank page.

In my idealistic poet’s eye, I envision letters flowing onto paper with ease and passion.

In reality, I understand that inspiration more likely comes in halting clicks on a computer keyboard, screen idling, fingers poised, poet pausing to claim the muse. If only poetry were as easy to write as it might seem.

My poem, "Life Cycles."

My poem, “Life Cycles.”

These are my thoughts as I read the recently-released volume 7 of Poetic Strokes 2013—A Regional Anthology of Poetry from Southeastern Minnesota, published by Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO). My poem, “Life Cycles,” is among 18 selected for publication from 110 submissions. This marks the fifth Poetic Strokes volume in which my poetry has printed.

As I thumb through the pages of this anthology, which also includes youth poetry in a Word Flow section, I am impressed by the talent of poets who call this 11-county SELCO region home. Southeastern Minnesota claims some mighty fine poets. I recognize many poets’ names from past anthologies and other contests. I am in fine company.

If I were to ask these poets what inspires them, how would they respond?

How have they come to write about an aged woman going to the beauty shop, sweet memories from the summer of ’68, picking strawberries, perusing library shelves, baking bread and a dozen other topics which, without their creative pens, would seem rather ordinary topics?

The poet’s gift is to dip a pen into the inkwell of a memory, an emotion, a moment in time, a scene—whatever inspires—and create a wordful work of art. As a poet, there is nothing sweeter than words flowing into lines and verses, connecting to the reader in some way.

When I read about gardening or peeling an apple (not really about peeling an apple) or any of the other subjects covered in this seventh volume of Poetic Strokes, I take away my own interpretation based on my experiences. Therein lies a truth. Poetry is as much about writing as it is about experiencing this wordful art.

Eighteen poems were selected for publication from 110 submissions to Poetic Strokes. In the Word Flow section of the anthology, 14 poems were published from 99 submissions.

Eighteen poems were selected for publication from 110 submissions to Poetic Strokes. Faribault High School English teacher and writer Larry Gavin joins me as the other Faribault poet included in the anthology.  In the Word Flow youth section of the anthology, 14 poems were published from 99 submissions. All but two of those students attend Cannon Falls High School.

YOU CAN MEET Poetic Strokes poets at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, during a Meet and Greet hosted by the Owatonna Public Library and the Owatonna Poetry Writer’s Group in the third floor Gainey Room at the library, 105 North Elm Avenue. Poets will discuss and share their poetry. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Bonnie Krueger at the library by emailing bonnie@owatonna.info or calling (507) 444-2460. Because refreshments will be served, she needs a head count.

Following the Meet and Greet, at 7 p.m., Minnesota Book Award Poet Todd Boss, one of my favorite Minnesota poets, will share his works. I cannot wait to hear Todd read during this “Poets at the Library Tour” event celebrating National Poetry Month in April.

THIS EVENING, Friday, April 19, Better Brew Coffeehouse, 301 North Main Street, Pine Island, is hosting an Open Mic Poetry Night beginning at 7 p.m. The event calls for participants of all ages and all forms of poetry to read their works or that of others. Participant registration opens at 6 p.m. Better Brew, the Van Horn Public Library and Pine Area People for the Arts are sponsoring the poetry reading. Given the unfolding weather situation, I’d advise checking whether this reading is still “on” or postponed.

FYI: If you live in the SELCO system, you can check out a copy of Poetic Strokes from your local library. The anthology was funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here to see the names of poets published in the 2013 Poetic Strokes. To read the list of youth poets published in Word Flow, click here.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling