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Mineral County Public Library hosts Montana poet laureates

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | September 27, 2023 12:00 AM

First of all, what exactly is a Poet Laureate, and what journey was taken to receive this esteemed honor?

You will hear the official definition as well as listen and visit with two Montana Poet Laureates on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m. at the Mineral County Public Library, 301 2nd Avenue East in Superior.

And do bring a lawn chair if the day is pleasant as this will be held outside on the lawn.

Mark Gibbons earned a BA in English and psychology and a MFA in creative writing, both from the University of Montana. Gibbons’s first chapbook of poems, "Something Inside Us" was self- published in 1995, and a second, "Circling Home" won the Scattered Cairns Press chapbook competition in 1999. He is also the author of the collections "Mostly Cloudy" (FootHills Publishing, 2020); "The Imitation Blues" (FootHills Publishing, 2017); "Shadowboxing" (FootHills Publishing, 2014); "Forgotten Dreams" (FootHills Publishing, 2012); "Blue Horizon" (Two Dogs Press, 2007); and "Connemara Moonshine" (Camphorweed Press, 2002). He is the coauthor, with Appalachian poet Michael Revere, of "War, Madness, & Love" (R & R Publishing, 2008), a collaborative collection of poems.

Mauvaises Herbes (Weeds), a bilingual translation of Gibbons’s poems into French, was published by propos2editions in 2009. He is the editor of two poetry collections: "Summer Lightning" by Marylor Wilson (Drumlummon Institute, 2019) and "Moving On: The Last Poems of Ed Lahey" (Drumlummon Institute, 2018).

Gibbons shares, “Poetry is living, it's ongoing and when we share poetry as we do at funerals, weddings and other sacred gatherings, it brings us together. That’s something that we always need as a culture and society, and maybe now more than ever. Poetry reminds us to love, not fear. I look forward to fostering that conversation and reading poetry with my Montana friends,” he said from his home in Missoula.

Chris La Tray is from Frenchtown and is a prolific writer whose work is poetically rich and vast. He explores the connections between the human and natural worlds and the dynamics at work. His work in Native and non-Native communities has shown the power of storytelling and the rich and complicated connection humanity has with the natural world. His first book, “One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large,” won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award. He followed that in 2021 with a book of haiku and haibun poetry, “Descended from a Travel-worn Satchel.”

La Tray will serve a two-year term, succeeding Missoula-based poet Mark Gibbons who was Montana Poet Laureate from 2021 to 2023.

“I never considered myself a poet ‘till other people started calling me one,” La Tray said.

The afternoon is titled, “Two Grizzled Poets Laureate” where attendees will have the opportunity to hear poetry directly from two of Montana’s finest poets.

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