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Karla Huston


Huston. Photo by Mike Roemer

The changing seasons bring a surge of inspiration for Karla Huston, Wisconsin’s 2017-18 poet laureate from Appleton. “Sometimes the changing of time and circumstance changes the perspective on what you are writing,” Huston says.

As Wisconsin’s poet laureate, Huston is committed to the growth of poetry reading and writing. She will travel the state giving readings and facilitating writing workshops during her two-year term. Huston will also work with various Memory Cafe programs throughout the state to bring poetry reading and recitation to those who suffer memory loss.

Huston discovered her talent for writing poetry as a creative writing teacher at Neenah High School about 20 years ago. Since then, she has been an active leader in the state and local writing community, formerly serving on the board of directors for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets as well as the Fox Valley Writing Project. She currently serves on the board of Council for Wisconsin Writers and is the vice president of The Mill: A Place for Writers, a local writing venue, where she teaches poetry writing. She will be a panelist at this year’s UntitledTown Book and Author Festival in downtown Green Bay (April 28-30), where she will discuss her writing experiences with other authors.

Huston’s latest chapbook “Grief Bone,” (Five Oaks Press) a melancholic short collection of poems, has been well-received, especially by former Poet Laureate of Madison, Sarah Sadie Busse who says, “The result is at once unsettling and too familiar, a little like looking into a tarnished mirror, the view distorted by ‘ripple/scar and story.’ And reader, there is beauty to be found there, too.”


Courtesy of Thomas Lyons Fine Books, Neenah

Huston is currently experimenting with writing about inanimate objects like her father’s secret tin candy box which now stores her fountain pen collection.

“I believe that the concept and the ideas should underlie the poem,” Huston says. “To write directly about them can sometimes become too sentimental. I allow the description of the box to be the concept and the idea – that’s where metaphor comes in.”

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By: Karla Huston

Was it the smell of fur that drew you,

years of it embracing

the swelter of this day, you leaning

on the telephone pole, paw raised

to greet the cars that drove by?


Courtesy of Thomas Lyons Fine Books, Neenah

It’s 93 degrees, but you look

almost perky with your biker shorts

and purple vest. All work is worthy.

And yet, I wonder about the dignity

in zipping into those sweaty spaces.

How many have gone

before you, settled skin against skin

against poly-fur-something skin

and there you are breathing inside

the same plastic mask while you ape

your mitted hands, resigned to salute

and wave, to pound your chest

with some kind of joy?

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