Celebrate 365 days of poetry with Laurie Allmann
With the autumnal equinox just passed, why not pick up a volume of poetry to get in the fall spirit? Laurie Allmann’s “An Hour from Now,” published earlier this year, offers 56 nature-based free-verse poems, divided into four sections based on the season they were composed in. Illustrations by Vera Ming Wong complement Allmann’s words.
A freelance environmental writer, Allmann spent the spring of 2017 at Belwin Conservancy in Afton for an artist residency specifically focused on that season.
“We started [the residency] on the first day of spring, and [it] ended on the last day of spring,” Allmann said. “I knew that I would be writing poetry, but I had no idea what I would ever do with those poems.”
The answer? Submit them to Minnesota publishing outfit Nodin Press, who gladly accepted Allmann’s work. The congratulatory letter just happened to arrive at her May township residence on the first day of summer, 2018, which she took as a sign that her original vernal-inspired collection was meant to be expanded into a larger project.
“I picked up the thread again on the first day of summer, and wrote straight through to the last day of winter,” she said. “Each of these were truly based on experiences… I didn’t try to go out to harvest poems on a given day, it was just about making sure I was outdoors.”
One selection, “Where Frogs Go In Winter,” focuses on nature’s crueler side. After this January’s polar vortex, Allmann was eager to get back outdoors after days of cabin fever, so when the cold finally broke, she went out at dusk to observe the river view from Marine on St. Croix. Instead, she came upon an otter enjoying a delicious frog feast.
“It was not shy. It was hungry, I’m sure,” Allmann said. “I watched it dive down again and again… [and] grab a frog from the sediment.”
Allmann is sympathetic to the underdog — er, underfrog — in this scenario, the last stanza of the poem beginning with “If I should die before I wake/ may I be relished/ flesh and bone…”
Another poem, “Ruby Slippers,” compares the value of the iconic shoes worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz with a lady’s slipper orchid. For years, the theft of Garland’s shoes from her museum in Grand Rapids remained a great Minnesota mystery, until their recovery by the FBI in 2018.
“A pair of shoes that appeared in a movie have that monetary value attached, and yet the sheriff’s department said their worth is beyond measure,” Allmann said. “From my point of view, the orchid also has incredible value that can’t be measured, some would say more.”
If you would like to hear Allmann read in person, she will be at ArtReach St. Croix (224 4th Street North, Stillwater) on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.
“I write poetry steadily, I do it just because it feels like I need to,” she said. “I think of poetry as its own reward.”