Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Muse: New Montana Poet Laureate

The object is to promote poetry and try to share poetry
. . . in whatever way seems best.
It is a chance for me to be of service.
~ Tami Haaland on Announcement of Appointment*

Tami Haaland is Montana's new Poet Laureate. The successor to Sheryl Noethe (2011-2013) and only the fifth person to be appointed to the office, Haaland will serve two years, until August 1, 2015. 

A brief overview of the honorary (unpaid) two-year position and a list of resources are provided in my earlier post on Henry Real Bird (2009-2011). Additional information is here.

Haaland has indicated in interviews that in addition to continuing existing literary programs, she intends to look for ways to improve outreach to communities throughout the state and to increase the number of poetry and creative writing education workshops available to citizens of all ages, especially youths. She also plans to facilitate efforts to create a Montana speaker's bureau program under the auspices of Humanities Montana.

* * * * *
Poetry is a long study. . . .**

Montana-born poet and essayist Tami Haaland has published two poetry collections: When We Wake in the Night (WordTech Editions, 2012) and Breath in Every Room (Story Line Press, 2001). The former was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award; the latter was awarded Story Line Press's Nicholas Roerich First Book Prize (Nicholas Roerich Museum Poet's Prize).

Browse the titles of Haaland's poems — she is an observer and a namer  — and her subjects become readily apparent — coming-of-age, marriage, family and other relationships, pregnancy and motherhood, childhood sports, work and daily tasks, nature and Montana's landscape, memory, experience — however, while ordinary life, stakes a large claim in her generally spare poetry, Haaland also works, as in her debut collection, the stuff of dreams and myths and place. She takes on "hard" subjects, such as suicide and loss of a child, but also can be drawn to the humorous.

Haaland employs in her work narrative and other styles and a variety of forms, such as concrete poetry (for example, Haaland wrote a poem that appears visually in the shape of a triangle); use of different forms, she has said, helps her to expand "the range of [her] writing".*** To give her work depth and promote understanding and exploration of the possible range of emotion and experience to be shared, both the particular and the universal, she assumes in her poems the voices of her narrators.

Here is an excerpt from Haaland's poem "Goldeye, Vole":

I say sweep of prairie
or curve of sandstone,

but it doesn't come close
to this language of dry wind

and deer prints, blue racer
and sage, its punctuation

white quartz and bone [. . . .]

This excerpt is from "Meeting Valemon", a story of a princess who dreams of a bear and becomes the bear (Haaland's poem is based on a Scandinavian version of the tale):

I dreamed the circle of flowers first,
Hyacinth and heather wound
into clematis, and in the morning
life without it was impossible.

Then he walked into the yard,
this talking bear,
tossing the wreath [. . . .]

Haaland's work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and periodicals, including 5am Magazine, American Life in Poetry, Calyx, Clackamas ReviewFlorida Review, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Letters to the WorldPetroglyph, Platte Valley Review, RattapallaxSouth Dakota Review, Stymie: A Journal of Sports and Literature, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac.  It also has been anthologized in such collections as New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010), Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone Region (Rocky Mountain Press, 2000), Cowboy Poetry Matters (Story Line Press, 2000), Poems Across the Big Sky (Many Voices Press, 2006), The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology (University of Washington Press, 1991), The Ecopoetry Anthology (Tupelo Press, 2013), and Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, 12th Edition (Longman, 2013). Haaland's essays have been published in Drumlummon Views (Drumlummon Institute) and State of the Arts and anthologized in Reading Montana Poetry and Mythology and Modern Women Poets: Analysis, Reflection, and Teaching.

A professor of English at Montana State University at Billings, Haaland also teaches writing at Montana Women's Prison and in a writing-in-the-schools program for Arts Without Boundaries. She is on the board of several arts and literary groups and, in addition to teaching and public service initiatives, takes part in slam poetry events, readings, and literary festivals.

Haaland, who co-founded with Russell Rowland Stone's Throw Magazine, is the recipient of awards from the Montana Arts Council, which presented her with a 2011 Artist's Innovation Award, and Humanities Montana, which named her a "Humanities Hero".


Photo Courtesy Montana Arts Council

All Poetry Quotations © Tami Haaland

* Quoted from "MSU's Billings Professor Tami Haaland Named Montana's Poet Laureate", Missoulian, August 2, 2013

** Quoted from Haaland's "Statement of Poetics" at PoetryNet

*** Quoted from Montana State University Press Release

Announcement by Humanities Montana of Tami Haaland's Appointment, August 1, 2013

Ashlee Twiford, "Tami Haaland the Poet Laureate", The Retort, September 12, 2013 (The writer makes an interesting point about Haaland's "voice" and also quotes Haaland as saying, "Poets can conjure up characters in the way way that fiction writers do.")

"New Poet Laureate", KULR 8 Television, August 15, 2013 (This post includes a video interview with Haaland.)

Jaci Webb, "MSU Billings Professor Tami Haaland Named Montana's Poet Laureate", Billings Gazette, August 1, 2013

Tami Haaland, "Poet Laureate: What Now?", The Best American Poetry Blog, September 13, 2013 (Haaland includes in this post a number of resources that promote poetry and literature throughout Montana.)

Tami Haaland, "Wilderness and Poetry: A Day Trip", The Best American Poetry Blog, September 9, 2013 (Haaland was guest author September 9-13, 2013.)

Tami Haaland, "Mapping Montana's Poetic Past", Drumlummon Views, Spring/Summer 2006 (pdf)

Tami Haaland Poems Online: "Goldeye, Vole", "11:05", "Liar", "Soup", "Pitch and Swing", "Cherry Stone", and "She Eats and Apple as the Salamander Observes", All at Montana Arts Council; "Little Girl" at American Life in Poetry; "Findings" at The Writer's Almanac; "Goldeye, Vole" at Humanities Roundtable (Poem also appears at Pif Magazine); "Little Girl" and "A Colander of Barley", Both at The Poetry Foundation; "Liar", "The Kiss", "Exhibit", "Budapest 1978", and "These Roses", All At WordTech Editions; "The Kiss" at PRX/Montana Public Radio; "Cleaning the Office" at The Write Question; "Burning Tree" at Redheaded Magazine; "Intertextuality" at Verse Daily; "Little Girl" at Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald; "A Colander of Barley" at The Poetry Foundation; "Joyful Noise", Excerpt from Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion at Project Muse; "The Dog" and "First Trimester", also "11:05" in Montana Women Writers: A Geography of the Heart at GoogleBooks; "Exhibit" at Public Poetry; "Pitch and Swing" at Stymie: A Journal of Sport & Literature; "Lipstick" at words from HER mouth (Tumblr); "Slicing an Egg" at Working Class Poems; "Given Time" at 5am Magazine

Haaland's poem "Play" also is found in Eat Our Words: Montana Writers Cookbook (GoogleBooks)

Haaland read a number of poems ("She Eats an Apple as the Salamander Observes", "First Trimester",  "How Pennies Cry When They Get Lost", "The Idea of Order", "Lipstick", "Catalog Shopping", "July 3", "Goldeye, Vole", "Meeting Valemon", "Chocolate", "Not Scientifically Verifiable", and "In the Sky Over Water") at Bookfest 03 (Library of Congress National Book Festival, 2003). Go here for the Webcast and a downloadable transcript.

Breath in Every Room: Poems on GoogleBooks (Some poetry selections are available here.)

"MSU Billings Faculty Member and Poets Wins Artist's Innovation Award", Press Release, Montana State University Billings, December 2, 2011

Tami Haaland on FaceBookLinkedIn, SheWrites

Cheri Newman, "Tami Haaland, Award-Winning Poet", Interview with The Write Question Series, PRX/Montana Public Radio (Haaland reads her poetry — she's an excellent reader — and discusses her subjects and themes, what motivates her to write poetry, and sources of her inspiration, such as her experience serving on a coroner's jury. In addition, Haaland talks about her work at Montana's Women's Prison.)

"Women in the West", Reflections West, Reflections by Tami Haaland, Episode 6 (This podcast can be found at iTunes.)

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