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Estella Lauter Named Door County Poet Laureate


Door County has a new poet laureate.

Estella Lauter was appointed to the post by Door County Board Chairman Dan Austad and confirmed by supervisors March 26.

Lauter says Door County is a place that just lends itself to poetry and the arts in general.

As for advice to aspiring poets, Lauter recommends participating in a group where members respond to work honestly and constructively. But she says the most important qualification to being a good poet is mastering the art of revision.

The primary mission of the poet laureate is to raise the county consciousness to a greater appreciation of poetry. Lauter says she's still working out the specifics but one idea she'd like to explore is creating another writing group in the county.

"We have three (writing groups) but we have probably more than 40 poets actively writing in Door County at this point and three groups just isn't enough," says Lauter.

The position of poet laureate was created by the Door County Board in 2010 with the posthumous appointment of Frances May. Barbara Larsen took over in April of 2011 and her two-year term expired at the end of March.

Door County supervisors experienced Lauter's poetry first-hand when she presented a reading of her poem 'What to Save in Door County' at the county board meeting March 26. The text of that poem is below.

What to Save in Door County

                Presented to the County Board of Supervisors, 3/26/13

Let’s begin with the shape of the thumb
that angles gently out to deep water,
its harbors carved by waves hammering
from the west and slowly built by ridges
on the east.  Then add the commonwealth
of parks where all species are free to play
together or apart.  The limestone base
that gives us cherry and apple blossoms,
strawberries, potatoes and corn. Wetlands
for cranes and herons, cliffs for eagles,
woodlands for deer and all the small animals
insects and birds that keep our ecosystem clean.
Creeks, lakes, caves, pastures, sweeping vistas.
It took eons to make this rich configuration.

Then add the complex history of settlement
by Potawatomie, Menominee, Scandanavian,
and Icelandic people, French Missionaries,
Moravians, Belgians, Poles.  Fishermen, farmers,
Shipbuilders and captains, hoteliers, restaurateurs.
Their families brought quilting, rug-making, weaving
rosemaling.  Fish boils. Fyr-bal Fest. Booyah.
Log structures gave way to red brick and stone,
then to clapboard houses, schools and barns.
And we’ve kept these materials to be savored.

The Door also opened to art and thought,
made way for musicians, actors, dancers, painters,
potters, glass-blowers, landscape architects, poets.
The oldest continuous summer theater is here,
a famous folklore theater, a summer school
for young musicians, year-round continuing
education at Bjorklunden, The Clearing,  the Tech,
The Crossing at Big Creek, a community auditorium
to bring in talent from elsewhere, several presses,
five bookstores.  A first-class diploma with little state aid. 
How many counties can claim such cultural richness? 

We know it is not easy to secure the structures
that support this extra-ordinary place, make sure
the roads, bridges and beaches are safe, pollution
is controlled, taxes paid, emergency services in place.

But we, the beneficiaries of this land and water,
history, hard work and artistry, fine teachers and the good
will of citizens who volunteer for all the tasks that make
a great community,  are grateful for their preservation,
and we offer heartfelt thanks for any move you make
to save the elements that give us this strong sense of home.

Estella Lauter
Door County Poet Laureate, 2013-2015


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