Local Ground(s)—Midwest Poetics: Selected Prose Verse Wisconsin 2009–2014

softcover, 428 pages
non-fiction/poetry criticism
Cover Art: C. Mehrl Bennett
ISBN 978-0-9846568-6-8
LCCN 2014952090

localgroundsFor six years, Wendy Vardaman and Sarah Busse co-edited the hybrid poetry magazine Verse Wisconsin working on laptops out of local coffee shops and libraries. Over 13 print and 15 online issues, they published the work and words of writers from around the corner and around the globe. Including poetry, essays, book reviews, interviews, verse drama, spoken word, visual poetry, and other poetic forms in print, image, audio, and video, they sought to build the audience for poetry and the community of poets, while working to define and re-define what community might mean.

Over the years, the mission of Verse Wisconsin underwent significant shifts, as editorial emphasis moved from a simple publication model toward creating conversations, activisms, and transformational circles, seeking to invite diverse voices into these conversations, to define and to redefine what a poetics of the Midwest might be, and to point the way towards what such a Midwest poetics might become. This volume represents another iteration of an ongoing conversation, as the voices of Verse Wisconsin’s editors weave in and out with those of other poets, once again reframing the questions by selecting work from over the years and placing pieces in new context.

“We hope that the significance of Verse Wisconsin and this collection of essays will be clear, not just with respect to a Wisconsin-based audience, but to everyone engaged with locally- or regionally-driven arts. There is always something worthwhile to document nearby. Writers and artists are always doing just that. The sum total of what a group of writers/ artists do in a region defines the poetics/ aesthetics of that region. There are diverse writing/ arts in every location. Getting to know the totality of that production is a matter of research and is vital to a larger understanding of those poetic/ aesthetic principles.” —from “Forewords & Backwards: Notes from the Cupcake Circus”

Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman are Poets Laureate of Madison, Wisconsin (2012–2015), editors of three anthologies, including Echolocations, Poets Map Madison, editors of Verse Wisconsin (2009–2014) and founders of Cowfeather Press. They teach workshops and organize readings and conversations about poetry.


Google doc of resources & projects pertaining to Midwest Poetry & Poetics started for AWP15. Add yours by making a comment directly on the document.

We invite you to post blog entries, Tweet, & Facebook using #MidwestPoetics.


Linda Aschbrenner
Laurel Bastian
C. Mehrl Bennett
Kimberly Blaeser
Gary Busha
Sarah Busse
Brenda Cárdenas
Ching-In Chen
Cathryn Cofell
Philip Dacey
David Daniel
CX Dillhunt
Drew Dillhunt
Greer DuBois
Martín Espada
David Graham
Adam Halbur
Lane Hall
Callen Harty
Matthea Harvey
Judith Harway
Karla Huston
Meg Kearney
John Koethe
Michael Kriesel
LaMoine MacLaughlin
Jeri McCormick
Patricia Monaghan
Jennifer Morales
CJ Muchhala
Jeff Poniewaz
Doug Reed
Harlan Richards
Charlie Rossiter
Margaret Rozga
Shoshauna Shy
Sifundo aka Be Manzini
Thomas R. Smith
Bianca Spriggs
Sandy Stark
Margaret Swedish
Bruce Taylor
Angela Trudell Vasquez
Wendy Vardaman
Lisa Vihos
Moisés Villaviencio Barras
Frank X Walker
Phyllis Walsh
Mary Wehner
Greg Weiss
Laura C. Wendorff
Marilyn Zelke-Windau

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3 thoughts on “Local Ground(s)—Midwest Poetics: Selected Prose Verse Wisconsin 2009–2014

  1. Pingback: Midwest Poetics – cowfeather

  2. Pingback: Wisconsin Poetry Activists | Sarah Sadie Busse – cowfeather

  3. Pingback: Wisconsin Poetry Activists | Wendy Vardaman – cowfeather

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