• 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
April 6 - Jun 27

Book Club: Readshops led by Karl Gartung

October 5 - Nov 24

Chain of Events: Tyanna Buie

readings & workshops
October 20

Reading: Peter Markus

readings & workshops
October 22 - Dec 31

Welcome Home!: A Veterans Writing Group

readings & workshops
October 23

Reading and Book Launch: Kathie Giorgio

readings & workshops
October 24

Urban Echo Poets

readings & workshops
October 27


readings & workshops
October 30

Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice

readings & workshops
November 1

Reading and Screening: Trisha Low, Stephanie Young, and Zachary Epcar

film & video
November 3

It’s an Interlace: Five Videos by Barbara Hammer

readings & workshops
November 10 - Dec 8

Shifty Subjects and Unexpected Endings

November 10

Alternating Currents Live presents: The Transatlantic Bridge #2.2

special events
November 16

39th Anniversary Gala

November 17

Alternating Currents Live presents: Ernest Dawkins’ Boglifier Project

readings & workshops
November 21

Poetry Reading: Kimberly Blaeser & William Stobb

November 28


Archived readings & workshops
May 28 Thursday, May 28


Join us for a reading featuring three Milwaukee poets: Ed Werstein, Thomas J. Erickson, and Mark Zimmermann, and to celebrate the publication of Mark Zimmermann's latest poetry collection, Impersonations (Pebblebrook Press, 2015). 


 Despite being a life-long consumer of poetry, Ed Werstein spent 22 years in manufacturing and union activity  before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. His sympathies lie with poor and working people. He  advocates for peace and against corporate power. A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and The  Hartford Avenue Poets, his poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Blue Collar Review, Mobius: Journal of  Social Change, Stoneboat, and a few other publications. His first chapbook, Who Are We Then?, was published  in 2013 by Partisan Press. ​Find more of Ed Werstein's poetry on the Woodland Pattern blog


​Thomas J. Erickson grew up in Kohler, Wisconsin. He received a BA from Beloit College in English Composition and a law degree from Marquette University. His poems have appeared in numerous publications including The Lo​s Angeles Review, Quiddity International Literary Review, Mad Poet’s Review, The New Poet, and Slant. His chapbook, “The Lawyer Who Died in the Courthouse Bathroom” (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin Libraries) was awarded second place in the 2013 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Contest. He is an attorney in Milwaukee where he is a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets.


 Mark Zimmermann is a Wisconsin native and has degrees in English from the University of  Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Between 1990 and 2004, he lived in Japan, the Netherlands, Hungary, and  Poland, where he worked as a university instructor and freelance journalist/editor. He attributes a  good part of his attraction to the lipogram’s linguistic constraints to his previous familiarity with  somewhat similar limitations that he experienced as a second and third language user during those  years abroad.  Since his return to the United States, he has taught humanities and writing courses  at the Milwaukee School of Engineering where he received the Johnson Controls Award for Teaching Excellence in 2013. He is also a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets and represents the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and in the anthology Masquerades and Misdemeanors (Pebblebrook Press, 2013). Zimmermann lives in Milwaukee with his wife and two cats.


“I wish I'd had Mark Zimmermann’s poems when I was putting together the last edition of The Book of Forms—I would certainly have used one and included the form.  Zimmermann has wit, a great deal of talent as a writer, a fine ear for the language, and the discipline that a poet needs to go with these ingredients.”   —Lewis Turco, author of The Book of Forms


Mildred Ratched, RN


A talented criminal, he came

in decline and riled the men, created

ill attachment in a card dealer act,

then cheated them all.


He’ll need critical care. He’ll need

medicine. Let him remain

here in treatment.

I’ll handle him.


I mean it. Earlier, medicine had calmed

all the men here; in time it’ll calm him.

Add the electrical treatment

and I am certain:


In the end he’ll relent

and attain mental health.


    —Mark Zimmerman





          To be a poet is not my ambition, it’s my way of being alone.  —Fernando Pesson


From the pier

the straight-edge

of the horizon

balances an ore boat

in two dimensions


My brother wrote

“Joe and Cindy 1991”

in the drying concrete

years before my sons

and I jumped

into the cold water

of late Summer


Now the lone line,

copper hook,

heavy sinkers


the low cool wind

from Canada


Cassiopeia ever

so faint

in the northern sky


Soon she will be

boasting of her beauty

while the empty boat

slowly falls away.


    —Thomas J. Erickson


The Way Philanthropy Works


At concerts in Rockefeller Center
sensitive ears can still hear the cries and wails

of the Ludlow miners
and their wives and children

slaughtered on the picket line in Colorado, 1914.


Without opening a book,
keen eyes can read

the lost lives of unschooled steel workers

on the facades of thousands of  libraries,
part of the Carnegie bequest.

And who remembers
the abandoned artistic ambitions

of the aluminum smelters, the oil riggers,
and the bank tellers who labored
so the Mellon family could endow

the National Gallery of Art?


    —Ed Werstein