Sunday, May 31, 2009

Judith Minty

Today I will be traveling to Ludington to make a small speech (at 3:00 P.M) dedicating a room at the Ludington Area Arts Center to my friend, the poet Judith Minty.

Minty's first book, Lake Songs and Other Fears, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and received the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum in 1973. Since then she has published more than nine collections of poetry, including Walking with the Bear: Selected & New Poems, published by Michigan State University Press in 2000. Her work has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Villa Montalvo Award for Excellence in Poetry and the Eunice Tietjens Award from Poetry magazine.

A sense of place is a recurring theme in Judith Minty's poetry. Born in Michigan, she grew up spending the school year in Detroit and summers camping in the North Woods with her family. After earning an MFA at Western Michigan University in 1973, she taught at universities in Michigan and the west coast, and was director of the Creative Writing Program at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, from 1982 to 1993. She now lives in western Michigan near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and spends part of each year at a cabin on the Yellow Dog River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Though very much a poet of national importance, much of Judith's work finds it's ground in Michigan and the lake country of the Upper Midwest. Helen Collier wrote in Woman Poet: The Midwest:

"...the clear and white world created by a winter's storm, the dramatic changes of the seasons, and the presence, in history and legend, of Indians. [Judith Minty's] poems give a physical sense of life in the Midwest."

If you see Judith before 3:00 P.M today, don't tell her about this. I am told it is a surprise, though the word is already out on the web.

The photograph is of the Yellow Dog River Falls in the Upper Peninsula's Marquette County, approximately 40 miles south of Big Bay.