Oct 28 2021


7:00 pm


$Give What You Can

Book Release & Reading: Hope Is the Thing *HYBRID*

In-person at Woodland Pattern and live streaming via Crowdcast.

(Register to attend in person, below.)




Join Woodland Pattern Book Center and Wisconsin Historical Society Press as we celebrate the publication of Hope Is the Thing: Wisconsinites on Perseverance in a Pandemic with a reading featuring Emily Bertholf, Brenda Cárdenas, Alea Cross, Susan Firer, Angela Sorby, Angela Voras-Hills, and Peter Whalen

In March 2020, as a pandemic began to ravage our world, writer and professor B. J. Hollars started a collaborative writing project to bridge the emotional challenges created by our physical distancing. Drawing upon Emily Dickinson’s famous poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” Hollars called on Wisconsinites to reflect on their own glimpses of hope in the era of COVID-19. 

As the one hundred essays and poems gathered here demonstrate, hope comes in many forms: a dad dance, a birth plan, an unblemished banana, a visit from a neighborhood dog, the revival of an old tradition, empathy. The contributors are racially, geographically, and culturally diverse, representing a rough cross-section of Wisconsin voices, from truck driver to poet laureate, from middle-school student to octogenarian, from small-business owner to seasoned writer. The result is a book-length exploration of the depth and range of hope experienced in times of crisis, as well as an important record of what Wisconsinites were facing and feeling through these historic times.

B. J. Hollars is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and the founder and executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. He has written ten books and edited three anthologies.

Featured readers: 

Emily Bertholf - "Hope Is a Verb" - Emily Bertholf is a writer from Milwaukee, where she resides with her family. Her stories and poems have appeared or are upcoming in several anthologies.

Brenda Cárdenas - “Hope Is the Earth Without Us” - Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and three chapbooks and has coedited or had work appear in numerous other collections. Cárdenas has served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate and teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Alea Cross - “Hope Is What I Wrestle With” - Alea Cross is the Advising Manager at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She is known within her academic community for conversations around race, class, gender, and ableism.

Susan Firer - “8 Minutes and 46 Seconds” - Susan Firer is the author of six full-length books of poetry, most recently The Transit of Venus (Backwaters Press). From 2008 to 2010, she was Milwaukee Poet Laureate. In 2015, Firer was awarded a NEA Fellowship in Poetry.

Angela Sorby - “Hope Is Feathers Spreading” - Angela Sorby is professor of English and director of the graduate program at Marquette University in Milwaukee. She’s the author of three poetry books, plus a critical book, an anthology of children’s poetry, and an edited collection on poetry and pedagogy.

Angela Voras-Hills - “Hope Is the Coin Flipped” - Angela Voras-Hills’s debut poetry collection Louder Birds (Pleiades Press) was awarded the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize. She grew up running through fields and forests of Up North, Wisconsin, and currently lives with her family in Milwaukee.

Peter Whalen - “Hope Sees a Hawk Soaring” - Peter Whalen is a published poet and freelance journalist who currently teaches English and creative writing at Milwaukee High School of the Arts. He is the former editor-in-chief of the Cream City Review and the former education coordinator at Woodland Pattern.


Registration with Eventbrite is required to attend events in person.

In-person attendance will be limited to 15 audience members. All in-person attendees must wear masks.


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