Poet publishes work later in life

Poet Peggy Trojan shows no signs of slowing down after gaining initial success in writing poetry at the age of 77

More stories from Kaitlyn Zenner

Wisconsin native Peggy Trojan published her first poem at age 77.

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Wisconsin native Peggy Trojan published her first poem at age 77.

In the small town of Brule, Wisconsin, a child sat in her kindergarten classroom, dreaming of her future at the young age of five.

She knew in her heart that she wanted to become an English teacher, yet she would never guess that another passion would take hold, though she would not pursue it until years later — 72 years later, to be exact.

Peggy Trojan, who said she has long dreamed of a career with words, published her first poem at the age of 77. With that, she said the floodgates were opened; over 200 more were published within the next eight years.

“I took this poetry writing class for eight weeks,” Trojan said. “I sent in my first poem, and I got it published,” Trojan said. “Now I’ve just come out with my fifth book (of poetry).”

Her quick rise to poetic renown began with a college and career experience steeped in the studying and teaching of English literature and creative writing.

After receiving a degree in both English and art, Trojan found a job teaching English at a school in Superior, Wisconsin for many years. This was followed by another teaching job at St. Patrick High School in Eau Claire until she eventually retired, moving back to Brule, Wisconsin where she now lives with her husband.

While Trojan taught English for many years, she said never fully set her sights on poetry until later in life, when her children encouraged her to write about her past experiences.

“I had written a few things when I was just in high school, and then I wrote about my students once in a while, but I never showed anybody,” Trojan said. “When the kids wanted me to write my life story, I didn’t know if I wanted to be that honest yet, so I started writing poems.”

As Trojan began her journey to becoming a poet, she looked to Ted Kooser, a fellow poet from Ames, Iowa, for inspiration in her stylistic approach, she said.   

“I write kind of like him, very simple,” Trojan said. “I can’t stand poetry that confuses you. A poem to me should be short and to the point and express something. My poems tell a little story and usually the last part of the poem is my opinion about what I was writing.”

Trojan’s focus on a simplistic style pairs with her belief that in a fast-paced world, people do not have as much time to digest large amounts of information, she said.

“People don’t have time to read lengthy articles,” Trojan said. “And if you’ve got something to say, get to the point. Don’t waste a lot of time beating around the bush.”

Trojan was featured on Tuesday night at Spirit Lutheran Church where she read some of her poems. Anne-Marie Bittner, the president of the World Cultural Center in Chippewa Valley who helped to coordinate the event, said she recognizes Peggy’s immense motivation and talent.

“Peggy is a very interesting, capable, talented and gifted person, and if and when she decides to do something, no matter what it might be, she goes at it and always succeeds,” Bittner said.

As Trojan continues to write and publish poetry, she continues to show that a passion can be pursued no matter how much life a person has lived.

Zenner can be reached at [email protected].