• Address 720 East Locust Street | Milwaukee, WI 53212
  • Phone 414.263.5001
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mon
  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
readings & workshops
February 23

Poetry Reading: Anna Vitale & Roberto Harrison

readings & workshops
February 24

RESCHEDULED: Genre: Urban Arts No. 3 Release

readings & workshops
March 1

Wisconsin Reads The Round House

film & video
March 2

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
March 7

Poetry Reading: Kwabena Antoine Nixon

readings & workshops
March 8

Poetry Reading: Ed Block & Jenny Benjamin

readings & workshops
March 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Suman Chhabra

March 15

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
March 17

Where My Dreaming and My Loving Live: Poetry & the Body with Nikki Wallschlaeger, Jose-Luis Moctezuma & Jay Besemer

readings & workshops
March 22

Community Conversation About The Round House 

readings & workshops
March 28

Poetry Reading: Sherwin Bitsui & Bojan Louis

film & video
April 6

aCinema Screening

readings & workshops
April 11

Poetry Reading: Luci Tapahonso

readings & workshops
April 14

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series: Lo Kwa Mei-en

readings & workshops
April 17

Poetry Reading and Conversation with Roberto Harrison @ Brown Deer Public Library

April 19

Alash Ensemble

April 21

Woman: Frailty Thy Name, works by Renee Baker

April 22

ACL presents Renee Baker Quartet, Visual Dark Scratch Suite

readings & workshops
May 2

Poetry Reading: Layli Long Soldier

May 13

Alternating Currents Live presents The Bridge

readings & workshops
May 16

Kundiman Midwest Chapbook Series Noel Pabillo Mariano

May 17

Formations Series for New & Improvised Music

readings & workshops
May 24

Poetry Reading: Urban Echo Poets

Archived readings & workshops
Sep 26 Saturday, September 26
7:00pm, Pay What You Can



Joan Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife and Hyperboreal. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry from AWP, the USA Projects Creative Vision Award, an American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and Alaska Pacific University.

Kane graduated from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar, and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her children in Anchorage, Alaska, and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. New work will appear in POETRY Magazine and The Best American Poetry 2015.




It could have been yesterday,

Trying to learn a pattern of water

On water or a road I thought

Prophesied and never found.


Against the backdrop of valley

I lost the flock as it flew past

For no known reason at all,

A sudden and small consolation.


I saw skins hung on rain-wet willows.

I could not fix in mind or memory

The terrible road or where it led.

Perhaps it was sleep moving


Against me, its round hill

Swelling against a flat landscape.

Iris of eye gives evidence of the sea

Growing larger, an obscured sky.


Casts over, scatters and rains.

Of a day that will not want to end,

Tomorrow shall be longer.





To the south of those who live south of us—

I will visit unknown men, hunt up the invisible

Behind the women.


It is both a bluster and a promise,

The day immature, blunt in its newness.

I do not know what steals me


Above the spines of mountains.

I trespass to hear the sound of the sea,

Its resemblance to a summit of wind.


Child, I pare off. The swallows

Have disappeared into their banks

And emerged as wolves. Expect


A bird of beak and tooth, the steep

Fetch, the sigh of new-formed ice.



The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife


Black birds luster in sleep above a rough

Sea, and he is all suspension from a length

Of rope before descending to snap ten

Long necks, one after another. Cormorants


In death are just lustrous: swollen from day’s

Plunging, distended with fish. He wants

To own his weighty bounty upwards,

But she in cunning cuts his cord and turns


To the other in her husband’s falling.

Implausible travels from a scar of rock,

And a return that needs no telling.

Is it her failing: the cormorant hunter’s wife


Feels no ill will all winter until the spring,

When, in a glutton’s plumpness with her black

Hair lustered, he buries her beneath a sum of stones

And himself plunges with the downdrafts under.



Variations on an Admonition


I have played with the skulls of seals

And feigned them to be children.


I will tell you of the black spot

Constantly before me—


I had tried hard to make land,

But the coast has altogether vanished.


I ask you keep your eyes shut

Until the sound of the swarm


Above has passed, that you mind not

A certain brightness. After all,


I have whittled you into life-size—

I will divide you into many men


With time for me to gather

The bones of all sorts of animals


And stir life into them.



Late Successional


You ask


to lead me to me

to lead you next


to colors all wet:

bark saturated brown,



where lichen scurries up the trunk

of a tree that needs it.


You make me wonder about thirst,

the way things work together.

Boughs once empty fill with birds


in rapid flickering flight until beat, wingbeat,

winged threat: a magpie I try to wish away.


I ask, do not disappear.

That is no kind of apology

and I have never been a forgiver.


The green part of me never leaves

however I find that it remains with you.

However I find it in you


you must remember I am not a soft woman.

You’ll seek the mother in me

but expect to see splinters,

rolled margins.


Together we have never been so alone,

like ladders, like messengers with another

answer. The ink-stained hand holds


heartache no longer. It’s been set

and pressed down, mapped & scattered.


Made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts.