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Poet shares work at Arts Council event


February 20, 2020

Miriah Kardelis

Melissa Kwasny reads her final poem, Counting the Senses, during an event at the Elks Lodge in Thompson Falls last Saturday.

Community members last Saturday got to explore the spirit of Montana during a reading by Montana Poet Laureate Melissa Kwasny. The evening of music and poetry was held at the Elks Lodge in Thompson Falls and presented by the Sanders County Arts Council. The event featured a buffet dinner, live music from Deb and Dave Oliver and Chilaili Wachiwi, and readings by Kwasny.

The Montana Arts Council describes the Montana Poet Laureate as a recognized and honored citizen of poetry, someone of exceptional talent and accomplishment. This person is someone who "encourages appreciation of poetry and literary life in Montana." The state legislature created this position in 2005. The current Poet Laureate positions are held by Melissa Kwasny and M.L. Smoker. They will hold the position for two years.

The Spirit of Montana event explored what the river valley means to the locals, and what they love about the area they call their home. The audience participated in discussions with Kwasny about identifying what makes the Clark Fork River Valley so close to their hearts.

With around 60 people in the audience, Kwasny expressed her love for poetry and how it connects everyone, young and old. "We all need beauty and music in our lives," Kwasny stated. That evening four poems were read to the audience. The fist poem, My Heart Like an Upside-Down Flame, is a piece from her latest collection, Reading Novalis in Montana. Kwasny expressed, "what if my heart was an upside-down flame? What would I do with it? What would I share with people?"

The next poem, Common Blue, is a praise to butterflies for their agility and fortitude. This specific poem was published in Ploughshares Spring 2000 edition. Kwasny asked the audience if chokecherries grew in this area, her love for this tart little berry shows through in the third poem she read. Chokecherries, from her book Thistle, which was published in 2006. Counting the Senses, was the last poem Kwasny shared for the evening.

A raffle was held for those in attendance. Steve Eberhardt of Paradise donated two custom caricature drawings for two lucky winners. The Sanders County Arts Council also held a raffle drawing from the evaluations the audience did. One winner won $25 towards the spring or fall art class from the Sanders County Art Council. Another winner won two tickets to the Wardens Concert that will be March 6 at the Rex Theatre in Thompson Falls.


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