The view from the farmhouse porch. Photo by Laura Hansen.
BY KATHRYN KYSAR
For one glorious week, I had the privilege of serving as writer-in-residence at the Madeline Island Center for the Arts, an idyllic place to work and just four hours and one magical ferry ride away from the Twin Cities.
The arts center is in an exquisitely refurbished old dairy farm outside of the island town of La Pointe. I stayed in the farmhouse, and from my window I could see the wrap-around porch with its comfortable chairs, a sandhill crane, picking delicately through the grass, and, beyond, the magnificent prairie, sprinkled with tall yellow wild flowers bending in the wind.
Biking on Madeline island was delightful: there are dedicated bike lanes on roads cooled by shady tall trees. No one locks bicycles at the beach or even in town. What a thrill it was to pedal the bumpy state park road from the scenic point to the beach. On one trip, a deer paused, perhaps not quite recognizing me as a human on wheels.
Laura Hansen, a poet and the owner of Bookin’ It bookstore in Little Falls, was writing at MISA that week as well. We laid out her manuscript on a long line of tables, poems parading in their potential sections while the sun streamed in the large windows of the Milk House.
The moon over the arts colony. Photo by Laura Hansen.
When writing became hard in the afternoons, I hit the beach with the yoga students. We lay on grass mats in the warm sunshine, sand cradling us, then swam in the cold waters of Lake Superior. We could see the hills of Michigan cresting on the eastern horizon. Some days Superior’s waves were high, giving us mouthfuls of water, but other days the top barely rippled, and our swimming strokes were relaxed and slow.
The moon was gloriously full, shining on the water and creeping up each evening through orange and pink clouds until it beamed above the pointed pine trees, round and transcendent. It was easy to sleep as the cool breeze fluttered the curtains, night birds calling for peaceful dreams.
On Friday as I stood on the top deck of the ferry, white-sailed boats raced across the bay as we chugged across the water. More cool wind and warm sun. It was an inspiring week for sure.
This week MISA is hosting Katherine Lanpher’s op-ed class August 6-10. Upcoming writing classes include poetry with Jude Nutter September 24-28, book development with Mary Carroll Moore September 24-28, a novel boot camp with Brian Malloy October 1-5, and a prose workshop with Paulette Allen Bates October 8-12. To register, contact Jenna Erickson at 715-747-2054.
Kathryn Kysar is the author of two poetry books, "Pretend the World" and "Dark Lake." She teaches creative writing, composition, and literature at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and lives with her family in St. Paul.