Poetry series begins Monday

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2002

Juneau poet Michael Christenson will be featured in the first of a series of monthly poetry readings sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

Christenson will read at 7 p.m. Monday at the Back Room at The Silverbow Inn. Admission is $5. Juneau poet and writer Peter Claridge is organizing the series.

"The plan is to feature a guest poet in the first half and then have an open mike for poets to read in the second half," Claridge said. "Just sign up at the door."

Christenson, 40, writes theater reviews for the Juneau Empire. He's been writing poetry for 23 years and has a degree in poetry from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

"I was going to be a biochemist until I discovered Walt Whitman and it's been all downhill from there," he said. "I got into poetry in high school in Minneapolis. I've been reading in bars and libraries and VFW posts and parks, with or without a microphone, ever since."

Christenson published an underground literary magazine in Madison in the early 1980s and he's performed at poetry slams in Anchorage and Seattle. He's participated in poetry readings in Juneau since he moved here in 1991. He is currently working on publishing his second collection of poetry.

"Like Shakespeare and H.P. Lovecraft, I'm self-published," Christenson said. "I'm putting the finishing touches on a new collection of stuff I've done since the turn of the century."

Christenson said he'll read new poetry and some of his favorite earlier works. He's writing a play and may do a scene from the play, pulling up members of the audience to help with the reading. His performance will last about 45 minutes. After an intermission, Claridge said there will be an open mike.

There will be a theme this month for the open reading. "We're calling the second half 'Poems of Substance and Vision Dealing with Sept. 11,' " Claridge said.

Poetry with a purpose can be a tool to better mankind, Claridge said.

"It can help people to heal," he said. "We can use it as a tool for betterment instead of dwelling on it. We'd like to do the reading after Michael reads, and let people put it out there."

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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