Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Muse: New Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Karla Huston has been appointed Wisconsin's 2017-2018 Poet Laureate. The seventh person to occupy the two-year position, she succeeds Kimberly M. Blaeser (2015-2016).

Information about the Poet Laureate position, which was established by a 2000 executive order, can be found in my October 11, 2010, Monday Muse post about Marilyn L. Taylor (2008-2010). Steward of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate program as of May 2011, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission is responsible for the selection process and assignment of position responsibilities, and for assisting the incumbent in performing official duties.

In comments about her appointment, Huston signals her intentions to "nurture the growth of poetry reading and writing as part of the Memory Cafe project" (an Alzheimer's & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin poetry and storytelling program for persons with dementia or Alzheimer's), and to create "new connections around poetry and the arts." 

* * * * *
If you write poetry, anything else you write
will be better. . . And the world will be a better place.
~ Karla Huston, "Why Poetry Matters"

Poet, fiction writer, and teacher Karla Huston has published eight poetry chapbooks, including, most recently, Outside of a Dog (dancing girl press, 2013) and Grief Bone (Five Oaks Press, January 2017), which received an Honorable Mention in the "Spring Is the Mischief" 2016 Chapbook Contest. Her debut, full-length collection is A Theory of Lipstick (Main Street Rag Publications, 2013).

Wide-ranging in her choice of subjects — aging, women, desire and love, memory, myths and legends, memory,  childhood and family, human dilemmas and domestic narratives, loss and grief, Hollywood and pop culture, the natural world — Huston is described as a poet whose work is "perfect-pitched", "inventive", "imaginative", and "brainy and sensuous". Sonorous, her poems also are rich in imagery, often humorous, and playful with language.

Below is an excerpt from Huston's catalogue poem "Theory of Lipstick":

Pot rouge, rouge pot, glosser, lip plumper, bee
stung devil's candy and painted porcelain
Fire and Ice, a vermillion bullet,
dangerous beauty lipstick, carmine death rub, history
of henna. Fact: more men get lip cancer

[. . .]
[. . .]
[. . .]

oh, kiss me now, oh, double agents of beauty
slip me essential pencils in various shades
of nude and pearl and suede, oh, bombshell lipstick,
sinner and saint, venom and lotsa sugar, lip sweet,
pucker up gelato: every pink signal is a warning.

Poems by Huston, as well as her many reviews and interviews, have appeared in numerous literary magazines and periodicals, including 2River5 A.M., 13th Warrior Review, American Life in PoetryArts Forge, Chiron Review, Cimarron ReviewEclectica, Free Lunch, HummingbirdNorth American ReviewOne Trick Pony, PearlPoet Lore, poemeleon, Poetry Southeast, QarrtsiluniRattle, RhinoSOFTBlow, Your Daily Poem, Verse Daily, Verse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Academy Review.

Huston's poem "Notice" is anthologized in Birdsong: Poems in Celebration of Birds (FootHills Publishing, 2016), edited by Eric Rounds and Bart White. The literary journals Quiddity and Indiana Review have published Huston's and Cathryn Cofell's collaborative poems; the poets' work also appears in the anthology Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry (Soft Skull Press, 2007).

Huston is the recipient of a number of honors, among them, a Pushcart Prize (for "A Theory of Lipstick", 2011), plus at least five nominations; a Douglas Flaherty, Sr., Memorial Poetry Award, a Best of the Small Presses award (2011), the Wisconsin Library Association's Outstanding Achievement in Poetry citation (2014, for A Theory of Lipstick), Ragdale Foundation (2002, 1998) and Bread Loaf Writers' (2007, 2006) residencies, the Main Street Rag Chapbook prize (2003, for Flight Patterns), and three Jade Rings from the annual contest of the Wisconsin Writers Association.

On the teaching and administrative staff at The Mill: A Place for Writers, Huston also serves on the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers and is one of the organizers of the yearly Fox Cities Book Festival. In addition, Huston is a staff reviewer for Library Journal. She lectures and often appears at public venues to talk about the value of arts and of poetry in particular.


Photo Credit: Mike Roemer and Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission

Jim Higgins, "Appleton's Karla Huston Named Wisconsin Poet Laureate", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 5, 2017 

Ethan Safran, "Appleton Resident Named Wisconsin Poet Laureate", Post-Crescent (USA Today Network), January 5, 2017

Alex Santos, "Academy Picks Appleton Woman as New Poet Laureate", Fox 11 News Online, January 5, 2017

Gayle Worland, "Karla Huston Named State's New Poet Laureate", Wisconsin State Journal, January 5, 2017

WPLC on FaceBook

Executive Orders 404 (2000)  and  133 (2005)

Karla Huston Poetry Online: "Winter on Winnebago", "Window Dressing", "Crop Duster", "First Memory", and "Theory of Lipstick", All at Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission; "Leaf Wrist" (from Grief Bone), "Some Other Moon" (from Outside of a Dog), and "Fifties Women at Windows" (from A Theory of Lipstick), All at Karla Huston Website; "Arachnophile" at Your Daily Poem; "Rounders", "Eighth Hour", "Sea Change", and "How I went from cooler than ratshit to lame and really annoying",  All at SOFTBlow; "Most of All" and "Wild Thing", Both at three candles journal; "Night Swim" and "Summer Storm", Both at The Middlewesterner; "Sway" at Poetry Foundation; "Niagara Falls Jumper Explains" and "Treasure", Both at Verse Daily; "Walker", "Fifties Women at Windows", and "Love That Red", All at Poetry Dispatch Blog; "Spiritual Warfare" and "Cheap Talk", Both at Rattle; "Mona Lisa Imagines" at poemeleon; "Catch and Release" at Marsh River Editions; "Theory of Salt" at Book That Poet; "The Mechanic's Wife", "The Plastic Surgeon's Wife", and "The Dog Catcher's Wife", All at Verse-Virtual (January 2016); "You, the Birds and the Picture Window", "Flash Mobs Always Make Me Cry", and "Picking Up the Dead", All at Verse-Virtual (July 2016); "Monuments" at Eclectica; "Flash Mobs Always Make Me Cry" at Driftless Review; "Say Something" and "Jewel", at Ithaca Lit; "My Imaginary Husband" at dancing girl press; "Sway" at American Life in Poetry; "Most of All" and "Wild Thing", Both at three candles journal; "Lost in Waukesha" at Qarrtsiluni (Audio Available); "Theory of Salt", "Spiritual Warfare", "Safe Water", "Anti-Rapunzel", "Mona Lisa Imagines", "What She'll Do for Love", "Windows", "Whistling Mother", "Nightmare", "Morning Zephyr", "How I Got Lipstick On Pages 17, 18, and 19 of the Book I Planned to Give You", and "It's Foolish", All at Arts Forge; and "Soap Woman" at The Other Journal

Karla Huston, "Why Poetry Matters", The Mill Blog, October 10, 2016

Karla Huston, "Poet Lore Poet Karla Huston Revisits Her Poem 'Summer Storm'", First Person Plural Blog, The Writers Center, July 24, 2012

Karla Huston on FaceBook

Diane Lockward, "Poetry Salon: Karla Huston" (Interview), Blogalicious, June 19, 2013 (Included is the text, as well as audio, of Huston's poem "Theory of Lipstick".)

"The Middlewestern Bookshelf: Catch and Release by Karla Huston", Review, The Middlewesterner Blog, May 29, 2005

Marina Oliver, Book Review of A Theory of Lipstick, Verse Wisconsin, Issue 112

Charles P. Ries, Review/Interview, An Inventory of Lost Things, Word Riot, 2013

Bob Wake, Review of A Theory of Lipstick, Coffee Spew, 2013

Appleton, Wisconsin Sidewalk Poetry Program

Wisconsin Book Festival

Wisconsin Center for the Book on FaceBook

Wisconsin Writers Association on FaceBook

The Live Oak Review Blog

Cassandra Press (Pencil Test, 2002 Chapbook)

Centennial Press (An Inventory of Lost Things, 2009 Chapbook)

Five Oaks Press on FaceBook

FootHills Publishing

Main Street Rag Publications (Flight Patterns, 2003 Chapbook)

Parallel Press at University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries (Virgins on the Rocks, 2004 Chapbook)

Wolf Angel Press (A Halo of Watchful Eyes, 1997 Chapbook)

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