Poetry at Woodland Pattern

Poetry has always been the cornerstone of our multi-arts programming. Each year we present dozens of readings, workshops, book releases, and special events that feature poets both from our region and from around the country. Below you will find information about current and/or ongoing programs, including some of our longest-running series and special events. 


Founded in 2020, In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations' Poets—is a national Indigenous poetry community committed to mentoring emerging writers, nurturing the growth of Indigenous poetic practices, and raising the visibility of all Native Writers past, present, and future. In-Na-Po recognizes the role of poetry in sustaining tribal sovereign nations and Native languages. Woodland Pattern is a partner of In-Na-Po and serves as its fiscal receiver.


The First Function of Poetry

In 2020, Woodland Pattern began a new series of readings, conversations, and workshops focused on the intersection between poetry and social justice. Topics and issues so far have included ecology and urban gardening, policing and mass incarceration, poverty and income inequality, refugee experience, disability justice, and the climate crisis. Poets who have joined us so far include Ross Gay, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Cecily Nicholson, Jasmine Gibson, D.S. Marriott, Craig Santos Perez, Stacy Szymaszek, Dunya Mikhail and Mai Der Vang, among others. Forthcoming issues to be considered within the series will include living as an undocumented person in the U.S. and domestic and sexual violence.


Poetry in the Park

Now in its seventh year, Poetry in the Park is a seasonal outdoor public reading series held at Milwaukee's Juneau Park in dramatic backdrop of Lake Michigan. A collaboration between Juneau Park Friends, Woodland Pattern, and local curators, the program has proven broadly appealing, drawing hundreds of devotees and passersby alike. Poetry in the Park is held on the second Tuesdays of June, July, August, and September (weather permitting) at 6:30 pm. The 2022 season is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Juneau Park Friends, and Village Church.


Poetry Camp

Since 1999, our summer Poetry Camps have touched approximately 1,500 young lives in Milwaukee while also supporting the careers of some of the city’s most outstanding teaching artists and youth advocates. Both poetry-centric and multidisciplinary in focus, Poetry Camp offers a range of creative activities and formative experiences that help students aged 12–18 find and celebrate their voices. Each year, we offer two one-week sessions—including instruction, meals, field trips, and a $100 book allowance—completely free of cost to families. Visit our Youth page to learn more about Woodland Pattern programming for young people.


Poetry Coalition 

Woodland Pattern is part of a national alliance of more than 25 organizations working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year we work with the Coalition to coordinate programming around a theme of social importance that poetry can effectively address. 


Poetry Marathon

Each year on the final Saturday in January, hundreds of poets and community members from Milwaukee and beyond gather at Woodland Pattern for our annual Poetry Marathon, a fifteen-hour extravaganza of five-minute poetry performances from a wide range of participants. Including everyone from young children to current and former Poets Laureate from around the state, the event has become an important cultural tradition not only for Woodland Pattern but for Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood and for writers from around the Great Lakes region. The 2021 and 2022 Marathons, though held virtually, have been even bigger affairs—with 24 hours of poetry and poets from Milwaukee and across the country. 


Lynden Writers in Residence

Through a longstanding collaboration with the Lynden Sculpture Garden, we have been able to invite two writers each year to conduct extended workshops using the grounds and art works at Lynden as inspiration. Other attendant activities include public readings at Woodland Pattern by the visiting writers, tours of the garden, and a closing reading and reception for workshop participants. Writers-in-residence have included Anne Boyer, Emily Kendal Frey, Duriel Harris, LeAnne Howe, Bhanu Kapil, Peter Markus, Ed Roberson, Elizabeth Robinson, Edward Smallfield, and TC Tolbert.


Native Writers in the 21st Century


Now in its fourteenth season, this ongoing reading, workshop, and lecture series focuses on presenting Indigenous writers of significant stature or promise at every stage of their careers. Visiting writers have included Sherwin Bitsui, Santee Frazier, Joy Harjo, Joan Kane, Tommy Pico, Jake Skeets, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Luci Tapahonso, among many others. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

New Poetry Series

This series pairs national and regional poets celebrating new and recent book publications. Poets so far have included Rosa Alcalá, Mary-Kim Arnold, Kimberly Blaeser, Daniel Borzutzky, Leila Chatti, Kate Colby, Tim Donnelly, Becca Klaver, Faisal Mohyuddin, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Morgan Parker, Bethany Price, Angela Trudell-Vasquez, Sandra Simonds, William Stobb, Beatrice Szymkowiak, Nikki Wallschlaeger, and Dara Wier.


Through Lines

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Through Lines is a series focused on lyric innovation in contemporary American poetry. Poets in this series have included Eric Baus, Ana Božičević, Marilyn Chin, Joshua Edwards, Jibade Khalil-Huffman, Annie Grizzle, and Siwar Masannat, among others. Featured here is a clip of Huffman's performance as part of the series and in conjuction with the December 8, 2019 opening of To Sight's Limit, a complementing group photography exhibition examining the visual practices of poets.

Unwriting Borders 

Curated by Roberto Harrison and sponsored by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Unwriting Borders: Latinx Poetry in the U.S. seeks to counter via poetry the harmful rhetoric and attendant violence often experienced by Latinx communities. Poets featured in this series so far have included José Felipe Alvergue, Edgar Garcia, elena minor, Lara Mimosa Montes, Urayoán Noel, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué, Maryam Ivette Parhizkar, Paul Martínez Pompa, Eléna Rivera, Raquel Salas Rivera, Dominique Salas, Elías Sepulveda, Jennif(f)er Tamayo, and Lila Zemborain.


We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. 

We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands ​through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic ​beliefs, laws​, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.

Read our statement on racial justice

720 E. Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414 263 5001

Hours: Tues–Sun | 12-7 pm

Closed Mon

Contactless pick-up: Wed–Fri | 2–6 pm, Sat | 2–5 pm

Building Accessibility: Despite the age of our physical location, and attendant limitations to access, Woodland Pattern is committed to making its programs and facilities available for as many as possible. Please call for more information.

Events Accessibility: Woodland Pattern is able to offer captioning services for its online events and with advanced notice can provide ASL interpretation for live events. Please contact us with accommodation requests and questions.

© Woodland Pattern 2022