Max Garland is Wisconsin’s poet laureate

Story by David Burish, Staff Writer

UW-Eau Claire English professor Max Garland was named Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate earlier this month by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.

Garland is the fifth poet laureate named since the honor began in 2000 by then Governor Tommy Thompson. The position of poet laureate is given to an individual who will be a steward of the arts throughout the state.

Carmen Manning, the chair of the English department, praised Garland for his dedication to his art.

“I think some of the special things about Max is how committed he is to sharing his love of poetry, love of art with his students and now the community,” Manning said.

As the poet laureate, Garland is the face of Wisconsin poetry and art. Through a nomination and commissioned process, he was selected to represent the state.

“I am grateful,” Garland said. “In another way, it doesn’t have much of an effect because what I’m already doing is teaching poetry and writing poetry and talking about poetry. I suppose I’m just going to do it a little further a field.”

He said even with this honor a writer’s job is to continue writing.

“There are connections with poetry that we often don’t think of as poetry,” Garland said. “When we react to a speech or we are at some ceremony, it might be a funeral or wedding, there are certain times when the language is more eloquent or meaningful and we recognize that as poetry even though it’s not strictly in a poem.”

Garland also believes that poetry is still important to many people on this campus.

“I’m not exactly sure if less people are interested in poetry because we can’t offer enough classes for all the people who want to take the classes,” Garland said.

Garland has taught at Eau Claire since 1996. The classes he teaches are mostly poetry and creative writing courses that consistently fill up.

“Students tell us that he is an excellent teacher,” Manning said. “He asks them and helps them how to look at poetry and text in ways that they hadn’t thought about before.”

Manning also said that because all of the English professors teach freshmen courses, Garland is able to reach  majors and non-majors, which has enhanced his popularity.

Caleb Larson, senior creative writing major, has taken multiple courses with Garland and said he has learned how to better his writing through Garland’s courses.

“He is one of my favorites,” Larson said. “He introduced me to so many different poets and he’s very encouraging.”

Garland acknowledged that revision and time are very critical aspects of poetry.

“Revision is important,” Garland said. “People like to think that poetry strikes us like a bolt of lightning, but it requires a lot of work.”

Garland said he writes poetry daily and enjoys teaching poetry and creative writing at Eau Claire.

Garland’s full-length books, “The Postal Confessions” and “Hunger Wide as Heaven,” as well as “Apparition,” a chapter book of poems, can be found at McIntyre Library.