Local Poet Wins Statewide Competiton

Rob Reid

Jessi Peterson
Jessi Peterson

Local poet Jessi Peterson won third place in a prestigious statewide poetry contest for her poem Century Farm. The contest is sponsored by the Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine, affiliated with the Wisconsin Academy of Science & Letters. Peterson’s poem was inspired by a family structure just north of Eau Claire, near the airport. Peterson’s great grandfather built it at the turn of last century. Peterson herself lived in it at different points of her life, most recently while building her current home on the same property with her husband Dan. She was ill last year and spent a lot of time looking over her writings. She found an earlier draft of Century Farm and began shaping it. Her father passed away two years ago and this was another impetus to shape the poem. He had always wanted to build a house on the property where Peterson and her husband built theirs. Peterson says that up until she wrote Century Farm, she “did a middling amount of poetry.” She graduated from UW-Eau Claire and was influenced by Max Garland. Peterson, who works at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, submitted three poems to the contest at the last minute, right before the deadline. The entire poem can be found at WisconsinAcademy.org. The print copy of the magazine another poem by Peterson, and can be found at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

White clapboard worn to silver sits
straddling the crest of a dark wave of soil,
sailing a froth of sand atop the dark, implacable earth.
   – from Century Farm by Jessi Peterson