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Hirshfield to highlight spoken word festival

Jane Hirshfield

BEMIDJI -- An internationally known poet's visit to Bemidji highlights this weekend's Mississippi Headwaters Festival of Poetry and Haiku.

Jane Hirshfield is the author of seven collections of poetry, including "Come, Thief," "Given Sugar, Given Salt" and "After" as well as a book of essays, "Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry," according to her bio on the Steven Barclay Agency website.

According to the site, she was described by "The New York Times as "radiant and passionate" and by other reviewers as "ethically aware," "insightful and eloquent," and as conveying "succinct wisdom," her subjects range from the metaphysical and passionate to the political, ecological, and scientific to subtle unfoldings of daily life and experience."

Hirshfield has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, as well as at Duke University and Bennington College.

Among Hirshfield's honors are The Poetry Center Book Award; fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets; Columbia University's Translation Center Award; and the Commonwealth Club's California Book Award and the Northern California Book Reviewers Award, according to the website. In 2012, Hirshfield received the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry.

Minnesota listeners might also recognize her as her work has been featured on Garrison Keillor's public radio "Writer's Almanac program."

The festival is hosted by the Watermark Art Center and the Bemidji Public Library. Here's a schedule of events:


• 10 a.m. to noon: Walking Art and History Tour with Cate and Al Belleveau. Limited to 25 people; sign up at library and meet at 9:45 a.m. at the Watermark Art Center.

• 1 to 2:30 p.m.: Workshop on Japanese-born Jun Fujita, an early tanka writer and photographer who later lived in Chicago but spent summers on Rainy Lake; program by Marjorie Buettner. At Bemidji Public Library. Free but registration required, call 751-3963.

• 2:30 to 4 p.m.: "Bonsai Poetry," pruning your poetry for beauty and impact program by poet LouAnn Muhm. At Bemidji Public Library. Free but registration required, call 751-3963.

• 7 to 11 p.m.: Opening Night Gala with music by Bemidji Jazz Quartet at the American Legion. Super Poetry Slam to begin at 7 p.m. Poets should register in advance at the library and get slam regs. The prizes for contestants include $150 for first place. This is an adult program.


• 9 to 10:45 a.m. Cavalcade of local and visiting poets with KBXE's Steve Downing and The Beat, previous slam winners and visiting Haiku poets at the historic Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.

• 11 a.m. to noon: Poetry Craft Lecture by Jane Hirshfield: "The Very Short Poem, Haiku and Otherwise." Free and open to the public. Book signing in the lobby of the Chief Theater following presentation.

• 5:30 to 7 p.m. VIP reception for Jane Hirshfield at the Watermark Art Center, 426 Bemidji Ave. N. Refreshments of appetizers, wine and other beverages will be offered. Get a VIP pass, which includes the reception and reserved seating at the Chief Theater for the reading by Hirshfield ($50 with gift package included).

• 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Presenting Jane Hirshfield Poetry Reading and Discussion at Chief Theater. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Watermark.

• 9 p.m. to closing: The unofficial after-party at Brigid's Pub across the street from the Chief Theater. Music by the Bemidji Jazz Quartet.


• 9:30 a.m. to noon: Farewell Brunch of the Bards at Sparkling Waters Restaurant with Jane Hirshfield, informal program and surprise entertainment. Make reservation at 444-3214, ticket price is $15 per person.

The Spoken Word Event is made possible through a grant from Region 2 Arts Council through the state's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund; BAAE; Kitchigami Regional Library System; Kats Book Nook with special thanks to Ken K. Thompson, Lueken's Village Foods, Holiday Inn Express and DoubleTree, organizers said in a release.