UW-Eau Claire celebrates Robert Frost and American Poetry

UW-Eau Claire commended Robert Frost’s work in American poetry on Monday

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The audience listens closely as Joan Christopherson Schmidt reads the poem she selected in honor of Frost. Schmidt was one of 13 readers to recite a poem.

UW-Eau Claire hosted its third annual Frederick G. and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry to commemorate Frost’s work Monday.

Acquired in 2013, the Frederick and Joan Christopherson Schmidt Robert Frost Collection was donated to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation by Schmidt whose husband was a friend of Frost and had been collecting his books since high school.

The collection contains 44 first or rare editions of Frost’s books, some of which have been signed and inscribed by Frost himself. Additionally, the collection includes some of his manuscript materials such as handwritten poetry and holiday cards.

“It is truly a treasure and something that we are very fortunate to have at UW-Eau Claire,” Chancellor James C. Schmidt said.

Chair of UW-Eau Claire’s English department Erica Benson said the annual event is a collaboration between the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, the McIntyre Library and the English department to remember Frost and his work.

The celebration consisted of 13 readers from varying departments sharing poems they selected to fit the “sense of place” theme. Those who read were told to choose any poem they thought fit the theme regardless of whether it was a Frost poem or not.

Schmidt, the donor of the collection, said she believes the theme for this year’s celebration fits the idea of Frost’s work.

“The committee couldn’t have chosen a better theme than a sense of place,” Schmidt said.

Stepping up to the mic, each reader first introduced themselves and explained why they picked their poem. The readers had different experiences that came to mind when they decided what poem to read.

Audience members listened in and giggled along with the readers as they immersed themselves into each poet’s work. The poems read aloud each had individualized characteristics relating to a sense of place making them all different in their own special way.

The poems read at the celebration are listed below:

—“Blueberries” by Robert Frost read by David Leaman, Dean of UW-Eau Claire College of Arts and Sciences.

—“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost read by Joan Christopherson Schmidt

—“The Lockless Door” by Robert Frost read by Chancellor James C. Schmidt

—“Song for My Children” by Kao Kalia Yang read by Caitlin Lee, equal opportunity specialist at UW-Eau Claire Affirmative Action Office