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LitEraturE By saLLy sLattEry


DPenning Poetry


oor County’s Poet Laureate, Barbara Larsen


few years ago, Barbara Larsen discovered poetry she wrote as a young girl stowed away in her grandmother’s attic. “I can’t remember what it was about,” she admits, sipping tea, “probably pretty little flowers or some- thing.” Not until retiring to Door County with her husband George did Larsen begin writing “seriously,” as


she puts it – penning nature poetry (“living up here, how could you not?” she laughs), autobiographical and memory poems, comedic poems, and more recently, philosophical poems about death. And now, the soft, but well-spoken woman with a crown of white curls and a number of published poetry collections to her credit, has been appointed as Door County’s Poet Laureate by the Door County Board of Supervisors.


According to Resolution 2011-31, the board appointed


Larsen with a unanimous vote. Her two-year term began April 1, 2011, after the late Francis May was honored as Door Coun- ty’s first Poet Laureate. Also recorded in the March 22, 2011 minutes, each supervisor received a copy of the 2011 Wisconsin Poets Calendar, in which Larsen’s poetry is featured.


“It was really precious,” recalls Supervisor Kari Anderson of


the morning Larsen was appointed. “It’s not a mandated situa- tion by the state; however, it’s important for us as a community to recognize the arts.”


A humble Larsen reflects on her current position, stating,


“It’s my mission as Poet Laureate to develop more of an interest in poetry among the public in general.” She hopes to accom- plish this broad task by offering workshops, hosting programs, and writing poems to commemorate Door County events and milestones.


For those serious about writing poetry, the laureate, who


admires such poets as William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Billy Collins, and Mary Oliver, suggests, “Reading as much poetry as you can. To get good, you have to study other people’s work. Artists do the same thing – you see people at museums with etch books, copying, studying.”


Door County itself offers a host of opportunities as well as inspiration to aspiring poets and accomplished poets alike. “Door County is making a name for itself,” Larsen says, “so many good poets who are doing so many things.”


40 Door County Living Winter 2011/2012


Tese winter-themed poems by Door County’s Poet Laureate showcase her talent, as well as the power of poetry.


Final Curtain Some days sun settles into the bay gently, spreading her delicate chiffon scarves over the pale sky and silken water like the pure melodic line of a Chopin nocturne.


Other times she is Carmen who erupts out of dark clouds to dance a fiery dance, tossing her bright skirts with abandon in the air over churning water.


In the opera of deep winter she is the sorceress Medea who wins the day’s last battle with the Snow Queen, sending a river of blood across the Ice Palace courtyard to bring down the curtain of night.


Originally published in Finding Tongues in Trees, Beach Road Press, 2010


Moonshine Icicles hang from eaves backlit by the soaring moon. Stars shoot flames into the night sky. I stand in the darkened room, trace shadow patterns of crooked-branched plum tree on the snow just beyond the window, embrace this moonstruck moment.


O magic night! I want to throw open the window, step out, and dance in your floodlit space! But–the warm bed waits.


I drink a long draft of your moonshine and carry it in my veins where it will intoxicate my dreams!


Originally published in All in Good Season, Beach Road Press, 2005 doorcountyliving.com


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