Madison, Wisconsin | 31 May 2008
Madison’s poetry scene cannot be contained. With 5 or more readings a week scheduled at various bookstores, to a strong community of resident post-MFA day-job poets, to the amazing national talent the university’s creative writing fellowships attract every year alongside the local award-winning slam team, this “Berkeley of the Midwest” remains an irresistibly-fun town in which to write, collaborate, and grow roots.
I tried to allow this issue to draw its own circles. When I started the project, I only had a couple of poets in mind whom I invited right off. In ensuing exchanges, I asked each to recommend others to solicit, and so on. Of course there were a handful of invites who didn’t have immediate interest or availability. And even months after the contributor list had to close out, I continue to discover more talented Madison poets I wish I could have also featured.
I miss Madtown dearly now, though the 3.5 hour drive is always worth a weekend south with old friends. All of these poets were strangers to me, and I hope you find as much surprise and smile as I did in their discovery.
So within this Madison postcard, what’s framed? For those of you playing at home, this issue’s treasure hunt requires you to find: a guy named Murray wielding a machete, thought crystallizing at 4 degrees, Castro’s talking penis, a pygmy hippopotamus, two bears the color of stars rolling around in darkness, the Virgin Mary in a peach pit, an annotated history of fire, a cat in a contributor photo, James Wright filmed backwards, Dean Young showing up to a reading wearing the same shirt pictured in his jacket photo, Bart Star’s rib protector, and more. Happy hunting.
grew up a cheesehead through and through, convinced a water fountain is a “bubbler” and a snowmobile is a “second vehicle.” While living in Madison after receiving his MFA at Purdue University, he wrote and published two poetry chapbooks, Trees are the Slowest Rivers, which earned an Artist Fellowship Award from Wisconsin Arts Board, and Wrong Horoscope, which won the 1999 Frank O’Hara Award. He now lives and works in Rhinelander while awaiting the publication of his debut poetry manuscript, The Brother Swimming Beneath Me, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.