Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Getting published, in a Mankato park August 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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HOW, EXACTLY, WERE WE going to locate a poetry sign in sprawling Sibley Park?

A sign explains the history of Sibley Park.

A sign explains the history of Sibley Park.

Upon entering this Mankato city park on a recent Saturday morning, I considered that my husband and I would be searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. We had no idea the park was so large. And we were supposed to, somehow, find 12-year-old Hannah Leraas’ Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride sign board here.

Absolutely stunning gardens.

Absolutely stunning gardens.

Yeah, right, I thought as we parked near a stunning flower garden to begin our search because it seemed as good a place as any to start looking.

The garden includes a fountain tucked among the flowers.

The garden includes water features tucked among the flowers.

But I quickly deduced if we were to find the poem, we best ask someone familiar with the park. That was not the young woman on a skateboard. A wedding photographer on his way to a shoot proved more helpful, directing us toward a particular street we had yet to locate in the twisting maze of park roads that are not particularly well-marked.

There's Hannah's poem, up the hill from the Ott cabin, to the right in the background.

There’s Hannah’s poem, up the hill from the Ott cabin, to the right in the background.

Hannah Leraas with her winning poem, "Snow."

Hannah Leraas with her winning poem, “Snow.” Photo courtesy of Leraas family.

With his directions and after touring the gardens, we climbed back in the van and moments later spotted Hannah’s poem, “Snow,” just up the hill from the 1857 Ott log cabin along a recreational trail and near CHS Pergola Way.

Hannah's poem, "Snow."

Hannah’s poem, “Snow.”

While my husband dialed (507) 403-4038 on his cell phone and punched in 407 to hear Hannah read her poem, I snapped photos of this young Faribault writer’s poetry sign board. I’ve mentored Hannah and am beyond thrilled that “Snow” was selected from among submissions in the fourth – seventh grade division of the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride competition. (Click here to read a story I posted earlier about her poetry.)

My poem, “Bandwagon,” was also chosen and is posted in Lions Park. (Click here to read about that.)

Sibley Park rests at the confluence of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers.

Sibley Park rests at the confluence of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers. The park has many features, including softball fields, a sliding hill, picnic shelters, a zoo (which we did not have time to visit) and more.

For any writer, no matter your age or experience, there’s a certain satisfaction in winning a contest and getting your work published. I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had the past two years to be part of the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride. This year 35 poems by 22 writers are posted in parks and along recreational trails in Mankato and North Mankato. Additionally, poems by three notable area poets are featured.

This sign near the CHS Pergola and atop the park's hill, encourages physical activity.

This sign near the CHS Pergola and atop the park’s hill, encourages physical activity.

I hope you’ll take the time, if you’re in southern Minnesota, to check out the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride. Just allow plenty of time for exploring, like we did in Sibley Park, once we found Hannah’s poem.

My husband and I noticed lots of oak leaves fallen from trees and oaks that appeared diseased.

My husband and I noticed lots of oak leaves fallen from trees and oaks that appeared diseased.

FYI: For more info about the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride, a project of the Southern Minnesota Poets Society, click here.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling