If you have ever walked to downtown Northfield, you have probably seen the poetry engraved into the sidewalks – such as Anna Chotlos’ “I have stepped across Here, the windturbines murmur ‘home, home.’”
But, what many don’t know is Northfield also hosts an annual poetry festival.
The 2018 2nd Annual Northfield Poetry Festival took place Saturday, Sept. 29 through Monday, Oct. 1.
The Northfield Poet Laureate and the Northfield Public Library presented the festival with events taking place at the library, Content Bookstore and the Northfield Arts Guild Theater.
The main events included readings with Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and Northfield poets Leslie Schultz, Susan Jaret McKinstry, Steve McCown, Diane LeBlanc, Becky Boling, and D.E. Green, Palabristas Latinx Spoken Word Collective and poet Bao Phi.
It also included a one-man show about Walt Whitman titled “Leaves of Grass – Illuminated” by Patrick Scully.
As a frequent wanderer in downtown Northfield myself, I was curious to see what the festival was all about.
On Saturday, I drove into town to catch the 1:00 p.m. poetry reading at the library featuring the Latinx poet group, Palabristas, and three of their poets, Lupe Castillo, Marion Gomez and Magdalena Kaluza.
The reading was not packed, but I recognized a few faces from the crowd who had been at Joyce Sutphen’s reading at Content Bookstore.
The entire audience was enthralled as these women read their poems.
They each spoke with the technical skills of someone who had passed their ORC – strong diction, projection, confidence and the passion of someone who believed in the words they were sharing.
Northfield is clearly home to some die-hard poetry fans (one man was even wearing a themed Minnesota poet t-shirt).
“Is it a rare treat to have such a strong poetry community in a small town.” – Cristiana Hawthorne ’20
Surprisingly, there was a startling lack of college students. We do live in a college town after all.
Perhaps the event is too new for it to have attracted a huge St. Olaf or Carlton audience.
As the event grows, it will hopefully attract more students.
It is a rare treat to have such a strong poetry community in a small town.
If you are inspired to read some of these fine poets’ works, look no further – I have done the heavy lifting for you and found you some free poetry resources.
Four of Joyce Sutphen’s books, “After words,” “Naming the stars,” “Coming Back to the Body” and “First Words” are available by request from the Carleton Gould Library.
Three of Sutphen’s books are also available at the Northfield Public Library.
One of Boa Phi’s books, “Thousand Star Hotel” is available as an ebook there as well.