For the eighth year in a row, the St. Croix Valley has been chosen as an NEA Big Read community. The NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is a one book, one community program that brings together residents from throughout the lower St. Croix Valley in Minnesota and Wisconsin around a common book.
Art programming in 2022 will be centered on themes found in “An American Sunrise” by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and is facilitated by ArtReach St. Croix and other regional partners including many St. Croix Valley libraries. One of this years participating poets is Lee Kisling of Hudson and River Urke of River Falls.
One of those art program opportunities is Poets of Place. Similar to a poet laureate program, the Poets of Place program seeks to be representative of the rich and diverse cultures of poetry in the region. ArtReach St. Croix is pleased to announce five St. Croix Valley poets who will be advocates and ambassadors for poetry and creativity in the lower St. Croix Valley.
These selected poets will participate in literary events at area libraries, will promote poetry and the Poets of Place program and will present their poems at a chapbook launch event in late April.
Kisling has lived in Hudson since 1988. He is a working poet, a retired engineer of railroad signal systems and has been married for almost 50 years. He is a father of two and a grandfather. He graduated from Hamline University in 2014 with a degree in Creative Writing. He has several published works, including his novel “The Fools' War,” a chapbook of poetry titled “The Lemon Bars of Parnassus” and a book of small poems titled “Add to Cart.” He has also had his poems published in many small presses and journals and one of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Urke has lived in the St. Croix Valley for the last fifteen years, mainly in Stillwater, Minn. and the last three years in River Falls. Her work is heavily influenced by her battle with multiple sclerosis and her native blood. River is the author of two poetry chapbooks, “Stumbled & Standing” and “when spirits touch,” as well as the nonfiction book “Women's Obsession with Shoes.” She is a contributor in six anthologies, including the St. Paul Almanac and the Yellow Medicine Review. River is a member of the League of MN Poets and Mississippi Valley Poets.