Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The poetry of Rob Hardy, Northfield poet laureate April 20, 2022

A portion of Rob Hardy’s poem displayed at the Northfield Public Library. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo)

ROB HARDY, poet laureate of Northfield, is the kind of laid back guy who appreciates a good craft beer. I know. Back in September 2017, I met him at Imminent Brewing, where we shared a table while enjoying a beer, listened to other beer lovers read poems about beer and then read our own beer poems. He organized that Beer Poetry Contest. Poetry at a brewery, how creative and fun is that?

In January 2019, I again found myself in the company of Hardy, and other gifted area poets, for a poetry reading at Content Bookstore in Northfield.

Promo courtesy of the Paradise Center for the Arts for a past event that included a poetry reading.

And then several months later, we gathered at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault for more public poetry reading.

Hardy is a champion of poetry. He tirelessly promotes poetry in Northfield, where poems, including his, imprint sidewalks. He organizes poetry events and publishes a poetry-focused newsletter and even has a poem permanently posted at the public library.

Rob Hardy, right, and his new poetry collection. (Photo source: Finishing Line Press)

And he just released a new collection of poetry, Shelter in Place, published by Finishing Line Press. The slim volume of 20 poems is a quick read with many of the poems therein inspired by his daily walks in the Carleton College Cowling Arboretum during the pandemic year of 2020.

The influence of the pandemic upon this poet’s life and writing is easy to see. In “Lyrical Dresses,” for example, he writes about looking at ordinary life through the wrong end of a telescope and sometimes crying for no reason. In “Today’s Headlines” the fourth line reads: Rice County has the highest rate of new cases in the country. That would be our county.

But these COVID-19 themed poems are not necessarily doom, gloom and darkness. They are an honest, reflective historical record of life during a global pandemic from the creative perspective of a wordsmith. Just as important as a news story in telling the story of this world health crisis. In “Grounded” he writes of pulling a shoe box from the closet to relive travel memories while unable to travel. While grounded.

He did, however, put his feet to the ground, immersing himself in nature through daily walks. He writes of birds and prairie and sky and river and wind…in poems inspired by his deepening connection to the natural world.

Shipwreckt Books Publishing published Northfield Poet Laureate Rob Hardy’s previous poetry collection.

I encourage you to read Hardy’s Shelter in Place and/or attend a reading at Content Bookstore featuring Hardy and Greta Hardy-Mittell, a Carleton College student and writer. That event begins at 7 pm on Thursday, April 21. Click here for details. Rob Hardy is also the author of two other poetry collections, Domestication: Collected Poems, 1996-2016 and The Collecting Jar.

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TELL ME: Have you attended any poetry events or read/written poems in April, National Poetry Month.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

12 Responses to “The poetry of Rob Hardy, Northfield poet laureate”

  1. beth Says:

    sounds like a wonderful person/poet

  2. I love how you Minnesotans are so poetic. 😍 I should research my area. I’m sure we have more writers than my favorite L.I.W.

  3. sherburneguy Says:

    I am writing from Sherburne History Center. Here, to commemorate National Poetry Month, we held an open mic (minus the mic) poetry reading. We are hoping this will expand into a monthly meeting. I have also taken on the challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days in April. Going good on day 20! Happy Poetry Reading!

    • What a great idea to open your history center for poetry readings. I love that. And congrats on writing a poem a day in April. Just a note that I edited your email address from this comment. If you want to send the correct link to your poetry, please do and I can include that in your follow-up comment.

  4. Another interesting person to check out. Thanks!

  5. Sandra Says:

    Signed up for Poem-A-Day, see what comes. Both my closest libraries have featured poetry sections. Looked up beer poetry, fun. A special appreciation with Fleckenstein, Hamm’s, etc. in this state – and have hoisted a few before fighting the weight gain. I’m thankful we appreciate this literary art form, if only to have good english survive. Computer-speak is annoying.


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