Frost poetry celebration to feature Centennial Poetry Competition winners

| Julie Poquette

UW-Eau Claire will host the fourth annual Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry at 4 p.m. Monday, April 24, in the Dakota Ballroom in Davies Center.

Several poems by Frost will be among those featured during the event, as well as original poems written by the winners of UW-Eau Claire’s Centennial Poetry Competition, who will be recognized and read their works. A reception will follow. 

The poetry event, which is free and open to the public, celebrates the university's Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Collection, which was acquired in 2013 by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. 

The Centennial Poetry Competition theme, “Reflections on Education,” was selected as UW-Eau Claire celebrates 100 years as an educational institution benefitting the people of Wisconsin. The university’s centennial celebration runs through the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

Max Garland, UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of English, writer in residence for the city of Eau Claire and former Wisconsin poet laureate, served as the Centennial Poetry Competition judge. Competition prizes will be awarded at the event as follows: first place, $1,000; second place, $500; third place, $250. Honorable mentions will also be announced.

"It seems fitting as the university celebrates its centennial that we honor the work of one of America's great poets, a man who was writing some of his most memorable poetry at the time of the birth of this university,” Garland said. “Also, it seems fitting to honor the living legacy of both Frost and UW-Eau Claire by highlighting original poetry by people whose lives have been in some way connected to this place.

“The entries were funny, nostalgic, heartbreaking, honest, highly personalized, and yes, revealed a lot about the broad theme of ‘education.’ There were many poems worthy of winning the competition, and although ranking the poems was ridiculously hard, I do thank all those who entered for helping illuminate the ongoing value of education. The fact that they conveyed this in poetry would have undoubtedly pleased Mr. Frost, too."

Following are the event participants and the poems they will read:

  • James Schmidt, Eau Claire — chancellor, UW-Eau Claire: “What Fifty Said” by Robert Frost
  • Joan Christopherson Schmidt, Milwaukee — donor, Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Collection: “Reluctance” by Robert Frost
  • Barry Moullet, Chetek — 1983 UW-Eau Claire chemistry-business graduate and chair emeritus of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board of directors: “A Prayer in Spring” by Robert Frost
  • UW-Eau Claire senior Alec Baenen, reading a poem by McKinley Lukes, a 2008 UW-Eau Claire graduate from Madison who passed away in 2010 (Centennial Poetry Competition honorable mention): “22 Minutes”
  • Brad Mueller, Oak Park, Illinois — 1982 UW-Eau Claire criminal justice graduate (Centennial Poetry Competition honorable mention): “Life and Education”
  • Connie Russell, Chippewa Falls — 1983 UW-Eau Claire Master of Education – professional development graduate (Centennial Poetry Competition honorable mention): “The Teacher”
  • Kathleen Serley, Wausau — 1969 UW-Eau Claire English education graduate and 1973 Master of Science in English teaching graduate (Centennial Poetry Competition third-place winner): “Skipping”
  • Patti See, Chippewa Falls — 1990 UW-Eau Claire English graduate and 1994 UW-Eau Claire Master of Arts in English graduate, academic staff member in the Academic Skills Center and women's studies program at UW-Eau Claire (Centennial Poetry Competition second-place winner): “Bloom: A Sestina”
  • Jill Melchoir, Green Bay — 1991 UW-Eau Claire sociology graduate (Centennial Poetry Competition first-place winner): “Subtext”
  • Max Garland, Eau Claire — “For a Dedication by the River” by Max Garland

The Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry is sponsored by the UW-Eau Claire English department, UW-Eau Claire Foundation and McIntyre Library.

For more information, contact Greg Kocken, McIntyre Library, at or 715-836-3873, or Erica Benson, UW-Eau Claire English department chair, at or 715-836-2431.

Photo caption: Joan Christopherson Schmidt, donor of the Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Collection to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, reads during UW-Eau Claire's 2016 Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry.