U.P. Poet Laureate preparing for new art show

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula’s first-ever Poet Laureate spent part of his holiday weekend getting ready for an exhibition at the Marquette Arts & Culture Center.

Russell Thorburn received the title of Poet Laureate last year. He teaches in Northern Michigan University’s English department and has written several books of poems. The exhibition is a collection of his poetry, accompanied by photographs taken by his sons.

“We would go out on, let’s say, Christmas Day, five degrees, maybe,” Thorburn said. “We took photos of Presque Isle. My one son goes to Michigan State and my other son is still in Marquette, a high school student, a senior. We went out this summer to Presque Isle and took a number of photographs as well.” Thorburn also has another son who lives in California.

Sometimes he and his sons began with a photo and he’d write a poem to match it. In other cases, he had poems in mind that he wanted to use, and then his sons would have to take a photo to match them.

“I’m always looking, as a poet and a writer, at visual things and trying to translate it into an image, to squeeze it down into one tiny line, perhaps,” Thorburn said. “It’s not a huge jump (to go between print and visual media).”

The show, called “Burden of Place”, opens Tuesday at the Marquette Arts & Culture Center and runs through September 28th. The center is hosting a reception for the show next Thursday night from 6 to 8.