Poet Laureate Activity Photos Part Four

April - June 2009

Click on the thumbnails for larger versions.

On April 5, Norbert, Monika Herzig, and Peter Kienle performed poetry and jazz in the sculpture garden of the Ball State University Art Museum, Muncie, kicking off a new “Performing Art” series.  Museum Director Tania Said hosted, Mark Neely, head of Creative Writing, introduced, Jill Christman of the English Dept. took care of the details, and grad student Nathan Neely (no relation) sold books and CDs.
At the entrance to the Art Museum.
Students frisbee outside in the rain.

The crowd is ready to listen.

Poet Mark Neely introduces.

The scene viewed from the balcony level.

The IPL in the circle.
Students like the stairs.
Signing books and talking.
BSU filmmaker Nancy Carlson and husband John hosted a party in their home after the performance. Nancy sets up things in the kitchen.

Discussing southern Indiana ties.

With a former student of Mark Neely who now works with Nancy Carlson.

Monika and friend who moved from Bloomington to Muncie perform Hoagy Carmichael during the party.
On Monday, April 6 we began a series of four Monday readings in the Indy Artsgarden by eight Indiana poets to celebrate National Poetry Month. The first readers in the series were Karen Kovacik and Mitchell Douglas of IUPUI, to be followed by Cathy Bowman (IU Bloomington) and Hannah Sullivan of Indy (4/13); TJ Reynolds and Mijiza Soyini (4/20) of Indy; and Mark Neely (Ball State) and Donald Platt (Purdue) on 4/27. As IPL, NK believes it’s important to continue this series in a public setting begun by his predecessor, Joyce Brinkman. Poetry belongs everywhere, including the marketplace.
An early bird in the Artsgarden reads before the poets arrive.
The Artsgarden looking west on Washington Street, the old National Road.
The new tabletops in the Artsgarden feature reproductions of art by Indiana artists. This one is a John Domont.
Another tabletop with another work of Indiana art.
Karen Kovacik arrives.

Friends catch up before the reading begins.

Jeff always does a great job at the soundboard.
Mitchell Douglas brings a good foundation.

Mitchell seen reading from a distance.

Mitchell listens to his faculty mentor, Karen, read.

Karen reads.

We make a party after the reading is over.

A happy group of poetry lovers, including Matthew Allison of the Indiana Historical Bureau Bookshop in the Indiana State Library.

On Tuesday, April 7, Norbert appeared in the Indiana senate to hear a proclamation read by Senator Teresa Lubbers, who helped create the Indiana Poet Laureate Position, and read his poem “Back in Indiana,” part of which is included in a stained-glass panel by English artist Martin Donlin at the new Indianapolis International Airport. Mrs. IPL was admitted into the chambers to take photographs.

The senate chambers before the senators and others return from lunch.
Norbert waits outside, thinking this is a once and once only gig. First and only IPL appearance in suit and tie?
With friend Cyndi Wagner, host of the Home Fields Advantage house concert series who works near the Statehouse, and Mary Ladd, intern for Senator Teresa Lubbers.

After being admitted into an ante-chamber, looking into the inner sanctum as other proclamations are being read.

Senator Lubbers begins to read her NK as IPL proclamation.

Senator Lubbers finishes her proclamation as the IPL inches nearer the lectern.

Norbert and Katherine with Senator Lubbers from the senate gallery (photo by Laura Frank, Indiana Arts Commission staff).

Norbert reading, as seen from the senate gallery (photo by Lara Frank of the IAC staff). 

The IPL springs into action with the first part of “Back in Indiana,” after explaining that it’s addressed to people who come through the Indy airport, in the voice of “us.”
The IPL brings home the last part of the poem, which is etched into the Martin Donlin stained-glass panel at the airport.

Does the IPL’s tie have a nature poetry subtext?

Anne Nelson, sales manager for the Downtown Indy Borders, agreed with the suggestion to create a display of Indiana poetry collections for National Poetry Month, with a focus on the poets reading in the Monday Indy Artsgarden series scheduled by Norbert. Former Indiana Poet Laureate Joyce Brinkman started the Artsgarden series.
Anne Nelson standing before the Indiana Poetry display as she was in the process of building it, with other books on order.
The hook for the display.
The whole display, with collections by Etheridge Knight and Mari Evans still on order.
The top of the display.

The bottom half of the display.

The April Artsgarden schedule.
Poetry details of the April Artsgarden schedule.
On Monday, April 13, Hannah Brown Sullivan of Indy and her former professor at Indiana Univ. Bloomington, Cathy Bowman, who has brought poetry to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” read in the National Poetry Month series at the Artsgarden. It was a rainy day, but spirits were high in the glass Artsgarden, because poetry brings people together.
The Arts kiosk with brochures, schedules, and other Indy materials from the Arts Council of Indianapolis.
The nearby Indiana Repertory Theatre in the rain, to the west on the Old National Road.
The enlarged postcard giving the April schedule of Artsgarden events.
A detail of the Poetry on April Mondays series.

About to begin the event, NK holds up one of the last copies of the poetry postcards produced as a memento of the Shared Spaces/Shared Voices 2006 – 2007 project that brought poems to city buses. The IPL also showed an attractive booklet that lists all art galleries in Indy and observed that all the tabletops featured reproductions of original art by Indiana artists.

Hannah Sullivan Brown reads her poems.
Cathy Bowman reads her poems.
Cathy from up close.
The audience listens to Hannah and Cathy.
JL Kato accepted the IPL’s invitation to read an Etheridge Knight poem at the end of the program.  NK, JL, and Karen Kovacik are board members of Etheridge Knight, Inc., which has an annual festival in April and other events throughout the year.

People visit and talk after the reading.

Four happy Indiana poets: NK, Cathy, Hannah, and Karen Kovacik, who has also been Hannah’s poetry professor, at IUPUI in downtown Indy.
On Monday, April 20, TJ Reynolds and Mijiza Soyini gave the third National Poetry Month reading in the Indy Artsgarden during lunch hour. Poet Michael Collins, who worked with Etheridge Knight in the Free People’s Workshop, filled in as emcee for Norbert Krapf, who was in Rhode Island with other state poets laureate.
The audience is ready to listen to poetry.
TJ, who writes a hip hop column for NUVO, starts off the reading at the lectern.

TJ wraps himself and words around the rhythm of percussion.

TJ takes his words on the road, to the balcony above the groundlings, who look up to him.

Mijiza starts off at the mic.
Mijiza adds the rhythm of percussion created by a friend.

The invisible Norbert, probably somewhere in a school in Rhode Island reciting a blues poem with improv backing from a most talented high school student (Chris Vaillancourt), wishes he could be in the Artsgarden at the same time.

On Monday, April 27, Donald Platt (Purdue) and Mark Neely (Ball State) completed the  National Poetry Month in the Artsgarden Noon Reading Series.
Mark read first.
Mark close up.

Don read second.

Don from close up.
One part of each audience of the four readings has not been documented in this series: the Artsgarden sparrows.  Here is a member of the chorus. Often these audience activists signal their approval of a poem by turning up the volume of their song in response. To put it another way, the song of the poet triggers a song from the chorus.
Mark and Don converse after the reading is over. Also present were poets Karen Kovacik, who read on the first Monday in April with Mitchell Douglas, and JL Kato, who attended all four readings.
Norbert read his poem “The Buffalo Trace” from Bloodroot: Indiana Poems on the evening of April 27 at the Irving Theatre in the historic Eastside Indy neighborhood, at the request of documentary filmmaker Nancy Carlson, whose film about the Old National Road, Movers & Stakers: Stories Along the Old National Road is being shown in old theatres along the ONR.  Washington Street in Indy is also U.S.40, the Old National Road, and The Irving Theatre, which has been bought by an architect who is restoring it, is located on Washington Street, Irvington, around the corner from the independent bookshop Bookmamas. Great things are happening in Indy and Indiana!
A poster outside announces the showing of Nancy’s fine film, which will be shown on PBS across Indiana in the fall. Norbert’s pal singer-songwriter Greg Ziesemer’s song about the ONR is featured in the film and Greg served as music coordinator and Greg served as Music Supervisor.
Poster detail.

The table for buying the CD of Greg and his wife Kriss Luckett-Ziesemer and for ordering Nancy’s film at a special price.

A book about the ONR.

Kathleen Angelone of nearby Bookmamas sells some excellent Indiana books before and after the showing. The IPL likes especially some of the books on the right side of the table.

The enthusiastic and full audience anticipates the showing of the film.

Norbert reads “The Buffalo Trace,” the ancient buffalo trail mentioned in the film that is about to begin.
Nancy and Norbert after the film.

April 19-24, nine state poets laureate and former laureates gathered in Rhode Island for the fourth biannual gathering, “Poetry for Hope,”organized by RIPL Lisa Starr of Block Island. Some of the laureates arrived early to conduct weekend poetry workshops as part of Lisa’s National Poetry Month Block Island Poetry Project. The gathering began Sunday evening the 19th with a communal meal in the Harbor Baptist Church followed by poetry readings and music, the kind of poetry and music event that took place every evening of the week at a different location (BI, Providence, Pawtucket, Newport, Jamesport) in the beautiful and smallest state.

Singer-songwriter, sculptor, jewelry-maker John Campbell and his friend Marilyn picked NK up at the Providence Airport and took him sightseeing (the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace, Saunderstown) and to the opening reception of an art show by the late Elizabeth Ferry at the Courthouse Center for the Arts, Kingston, until the next BI Ferry departed in the early evening.

The BI ferry about to depart from Pt. Judith.
John Pederson, husband of Janie, Katherine Krapf ’s former colleague in the Manhasset Schools, Long Island, met Norbert at the ferry and drove him to the Pederson’s shared house on BI for a quick tour before dinner at the Harbor Baptist Church.
The Pederson house on Block Island shared with Janie’s sister and family.

Hygeia House, the Victorian bed and breakfast where IPL Lisa Starr runs the Block Island Poetry Project.

A Hayden Carruth broadside on the front door of Hygeia House.

The view from the Hygeia House back porch.

Lisa Starr welcomes the laureates and other guests at the beginning of the music and poetry event in the Harbor Baptist church.

The BI Choir sings.

The BI Drummers entertain.

Doug Van Koss, who for decades has conducted workshops with Robert Bly and Coleman Barks, leads us in singing and chanting.

Maggie Vaughn, Tennessee PL, sits in the Hygeia House living room the next morning working on a poem.
The coffee table covered with books, including Norbert’s Invisible Presence and Bloodroot.
Block Island map.

On April 20th, the poets laureates went into the schools of South County, had lunch together at Amalfis in Kingston, went on a bus tour of South County, had dinner at Club Tazza in downtown Providence, and read a poem each, listened to music, and viewed dancing by young people who participate in the Providence Institute for Non-Violence.

South Kingston High School, South County, where Norbert talked to a group of high schoolers about poetry, read a few of his poems, and answered questions.
Norbert with the students’ teacher, who previously had them bring in and talk about a favorite song lyric.
With Lisa Starr after the laureates had lunch at Amalfis.
Six state poets laureate after the  happy lunch, l-r: Nancy Lord (Alaska); Maggie Vaughn (Tennessee); Marie Harris (Rhode Island); Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (Virginia); Marjorie Wentworth (South Carolina); NK
Before the Providence Town Hall reading and music performance.
The editor of the poetry page of a paper for and by the homeless speaks.
Marjorie Wentworth reads.
Norbert reads.
Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda reads.
David Allen Evans reads.

Young woman who works for Institute for Nonviolence explains how the program works. Young people go out on the streets to prevent violence, talk people out of committing it, but they also perform music, dance, rap, recite poems…

Some  youths sing, some rap, some dance, some do it all. Nobody was not lifted up by at least some aspect of the Town Hall evening.

More young Providence Town Hall nonviolent action.

On Tuesday, April 21, the poets laureate went into the Providence schools, but Norbert got the morning off and spent most of it writing in his journal. In the afternoon, the laureates had a walking tour of Providence, which included a visit to various buildings and departments of the Brown Campus and an art exhibit at 5 Traverse Gallery. Late afternoon the laureates led a poetry workshop in the Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, followed by a meal at the nearby China Inn, and an evening of readings with music. Norbert’s camera, already tired and overheated from so much poetry work, took a break the whole day and evening.


On the morning of Wed., April 22, Lisa Star, Marjorie Wentworth, and Norbert visited two combined classes at West Warwick High School, after which they joined everyone for lunch at Forge Farm, owned by descendants of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, near Warwick. In the evening, the laureates, most of whom were paired with community or college poets, read at Salve Regina College, on the water in Newport, to celebrate Earth Day.

Cedar Hill Elementary School, Warwick, Norbert with 2nd-graders.
Students say thanks in their special school gesture language.
Reading to 5th graders while Mayor Scott Avedisian waits his turn to speak about the importance of poetry and read from the work of a local poet of the past.

Reading poems from Circus Songs about finding your voice and coming into your powers.

Answering direct and stimulating student questions.
The Mayor takes his turn reading.
Norbert and Mayor Avedisian shake hands on a poetry job well done by all, especially the students.
Farmhouse of Forge Farm, setting for laureate lunch

Laureates & guests enjoying lunch & conversation.

Greene family cemetery at Forge Farm.

Memorial for Rev. General Nathaniel Greene.
Forsythia time on Forge Farm.
Dinner served to laureates at Salve Regina College, Newport, in a campus dining area overlooking the water.

John Campbell and his friend Marilyn at dinner, next to Norbert (off to the right), who had a chance to speak with John about getting some musical backing while reciting a poem later in the auditorium.

Lisa Starr kicks off the Earth Day poetry and music event in the Salve Regina auditorium.

Marj Wentworth with her community poet.

Marj reads her poem.

Maggie Vaughn paired with her community poet.

Maggie makes the audience laugh with her Tennessee humor.
David Allen Evans with his student poet.
Nancy Lord & her student poet.

Joyce Brinkman & her student poet.

John Campbell & his friend tune.

Norbert recites “I’m Practically with the Band” with backing from John and his friend.

Norbert at the mic.

On Thurs., April 23, the state poets laureate visited Newport schools. Norbert, Lisa, and Marj again were a team, this time at the East Bay Met School, an alternative school for the arts. Teenage and adult students are combined at this experimental school.  When the laureates arrived, they found the students gathered together on folding chairs in an open area, off which doors led into studios and other kinds of classrooms. Norbert saw a student sitting along the wall playing his guitar quietly and approached him to back him on some poems. Chris Vaillancourt did a superb job, with only a few minutes to prepare.


After their morning school visits, the poets laureate participated in a panel discussion at the Redwood Library, with the Excecutive Director of the Rhode Island Arts Commission, Randy Rosenbaum, and members of the audience asking questions about how laureates are selected or appointed, what their duties are, and how they and their writing are affected by the performance of these duties. The poets laureate then had lunch at the Seaman’s Institute in Newport, after which they read a poem each in the library of the building to a small circle of people who came to hear them.

Chris Vaillancourt playing his guitar as Norbert & other laureates enter the school. Another student works on a poem.
Norbert and Chris jam on “Etheridge Knight’s Blues.” The other students, who knew how good Chris is, whooped it up when Norbert announced Chris had agreed to back him.

Marj observes while Norbert and Chris decide to add on the recent “Gonads, Grits, and Gravy” blues poem. Chris tore it up with a city blues shuffle.

When Norbert asked if anyone would like to read a poem, the student sitting next to Chris stood up and read one he had just written.
Next, another student stood up across the room and did a solo rap.
Then the students’ teacher got up and read an autobiographical poem about family matters.
At that point, Norbert asked Chris if he would come back up front and sing one of his own songs. Chris hemmed and hawed, said he was nervous, but agreed to do so when his teacher encouraged him. Chris sang a powerful and soulful song that everyone loved.
A laureates panel discussion at the Redwood Library.
The poetry partisan license plate of a member of the audience for the panel discussion.
The laureates gather in the library of the Seaman’s Institute to read after a satisfying lunch in a small dining room.
On the evening of April 23, a full day and night, as a conclusion for the gathering of state poets laureate, there was a reception/cocktail party  for laureates and some 100 people in a private home on Jamestown overlooking the water. Gov. Donald Carcieri and his wife Suzanne were there to party with the laureates, each of whom read a poem. Once again, the evening included music, provided by a classical chamber group and folk music by John Campbell and Fudd Benson, who backed Norbert on his reading of “Angel Sister Song,” from his forthcoming Sweet Sister Moon.

The laureates discovered, upon entering the private home, that volunteers head researched their poetry on the Internet and posted printouts of a poem by each on the walls of the house. Norbert found his “Weeping Willow” poem ready to great him as he entered.

Three young bartenders full of energy to pour.
Gov. and Mrs. Carcieri socialize with the poets.

Norbert with the Gov. & wife.

Maggie Vaughn with the Carcieris.
The Gov with Nancy Lord and Joyce Brinkman.
Former Indiana state senator, state treasurer, and state poet laureate Joyce Brinkman alone with the Gov
John and Fudd entertain the party people with their music.

Gov & Marj.

The sun is about to set on the water outside & on the inspiring weeklong “Poetry of Hope” gathering of laureates.

This license plate serves as the capstone image of the 2009 poets laureate gathering in the beautiful state of Rhode Island. Kudos to Lisa Starr!
On Saturday, April 25, the day after he returned from Rhode Island, Norbert read nature poems, at the request of Lisa Laflin, at the Earth Day Indiana Festival, American Legion Mall, Indy, a short walk from his house. Musical groups also performed, and U.S. Senator Andre Carson appeared and chatted amiably.

Part of the Earth Day Indiana Festival audience. 

Norbert followed Acoustic Catfish to the main stage and read nature poems.

Norbert with Lisa Laflin.

Norbert and Daniel with US Senator Andre Dawson.

On May 9, four of the “Airpoets,” Joyce Brinkman, Ruthelen Burns, Joseph Heithaus, and NK, read from their Rivers, Rails, and Runways anthology (San Francisco Bay Press) at Bookmamas, an independent bookstore in the historic Irvington section of Indianapolis.

Katherine, Daniel, and his friend Alexandria Assareh, whose parents Monica and Yaddie came to town from Missouri for the weekend, attend the reading.

Books and poetry bring people together.

Ruthelen reads.

Joyce reads.

Joe reads.

Norbert reads.

Love bugs listen.

A famous American author from Missouri, Mr. Clemens, is happy (though he doesn’t show it) that residents of his state have come to the reading by Indiana poets.

On Mother’s Day, May 9, Norbert read in the monthly “An Evening with the Muse” series sponsored by the Writers’ Center of Indiana. He chose as his theme “Mother Meets the Muse,” to combine Mother’s Day with poems from his forthcoming collection Sweet Sister Moon, celebrations of women, including the Muse in various incarnations.

Rohana McCarmack, who organizes the series with Richard Pflum, calls everyone to attention for her introduction by playing the harmonica.
The audience is ready for the muse..Some listeners may hear and see different muses in the same poem.
Richard Pflum, left, always has an eye ready and an ear open for the muse.

The open mic begins.

Rohana contributes a little more Mother’s Day mouth harp before she recites, from memory, a poem or two for the open mic. Thanks to Katherine Krapf for the Mother’s Day photos.

On May 14, Norbert visited Burnett Creek Elementary School, k-5, in West Lafayette, one week before graduation.  He read poems, talked about poetry, answered questions, and listened to each graduating fifth-grader read his/her original poem in two combined groups, one in the late morning, one in the afternoon. He also received a tour of the attractive and welcoming school building.

The school seen from the outside.

Staff member Dona Santos arranged the visit and oversaw the details, over the period of several months, to make the class presentations successful for everyone.

Showing the students the booklet Circus Songs, a collaboration with Norbert’s late colleague Alfred Van Loen.

Showing a drawing from Circus Songs, about animals and performers in the circus; the poems are in the voice of circus performers, including a poet figure inside each of them!

The table is set for lunch in the library, in the same space where the poetry reading and discussions took place.
The principal, Mr. Pearl, the librarian, Mrs. Whelan, Mrs. Santos, and others gathered for lunch in the library, a perfect setting for a literary lunch.
Norbert received a school tour from Mrs. Santos’ son.
Another group ready to go to the circus and ask what it means to perform in the show.
Reading, writing, and listening to poetry is an exploration of our inner and outer world.

On Sunday, May 24, the day of the Indy 500 and a holiday weekend, Joyce Brinkman. Ruthelen Burns, and Norbert read from The Airpoets anthology Rivers, Rails, and Runways in the Lillian Fendig Gallery of the Carnegie Center, Rensselaer.  The event was sponsored by the Prairie Arts Council; the Prairie Authors Guild publishes an annual anthology, From the Edge of the Prairie; the Prairie Arts Council sponsors art shows in the gallery.


Norbert considers the Prairie Arts Council, its beautiful Carnegie Center, a former library, and the multiple activities that its sponsors, a model for the principle, promotion, and implementation of “localism,” of living deeply in your community, of writing and creating and supporting art of your place, out of your local culture. Do not let anybody get by with belittling “regional” art as intrinsically limited; as Norbert keeps saying, Shakespeare was a “local author” in Stratford. Often a negative attitude toward “localism” or “regionalism” reveals little more than the bias and myopic perspective of whoever expresses such an attitude. Thus sayeth the IPL from his virtual bully pulpit!


Thanks to John Groppe for organizing and promoting this event and taking pictures 1-10 and Katherine Krapf for 11-14.

Joyce introduces the trio of Airpoets in the Fendig Gallery, the Carnegie Center, Rensselaer.

The trio of Airpoets seen from another angle.

Joyce as viewed from behind the audience.
Joyce solo.

Norbert shows his airport window by Martin Donlin.

Norbert seen from the side.

Norbert again from the side, with the audience and refreshment table visible.
Norbert solo.
Ruthelen solo. 
Ruthelen solo 2.

John Groppe, who introduced the group and took the above photos, listens and meditates.

John and others at the refreshments table. An event like this reading requires the work of many volunteers.
John and Ruthelen talk. Poetry events bring people together in different ways and on different levels.

Norbert signs while Joyce schmoozes.  Poets do more at readings more than just read, and members of the audience do more than just look and listen.

On June 16, Norbert gave a reading from his prose childhood memoir, The Ripest Moments, at the Emil-Von-Behring Gymnasium, Spardorf (near Erlangen), Germany, where dialect poet and playwright Helmut Haberkamm teaches.  The reading took place in the school library, after the regular school hours.
Norbert reading from his memoir.
A close-up of Norbert reading.
Norbert seen reading and talking from the back of the room.
Norbert answering student questions.
Helmut Haberkamm with his former student Rosa, whose mother was Norbert’s neighbor when he was a Fulbright Guest Professor of American Poetry at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 1988-89 and met Helmut, a Ph.D. candidate.
Norbert with Helmut (r.), his colleague Stephanie, and two other colleagues.

Part Five of IPL Photo Gallery - July 2009 to September 2009

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