Readings Writing

National Poetry Month: Meet 91-Year-Old Poet Peggy Trojan

Trojan will read at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library on April 18

Barbara Arnold |

APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. Meet 91-year-old poet Peggy Trojan, who will be reading at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in April. (Submitted photos)
APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH. Meet 91-year-old poet Peggy Trojan, who will be reading at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library in April. (Submitted photos)

At age 77, Peggy Trojan was not seeking an encore career. Already retired from a prior profession as an English teacher, and having raised six children, she and her beloved husband, David – a retired sociology professor and Marine helicopter pilot – had moved to the Northwoods near her hometown of Brule, Wisconsin. They then built their dream home “nail by nail with family and friends.”

Yet Trojan’s poetry career found her, and it became her passion. Since her first poem was published after she took a class for seniors on writing poetry, Trojan has published two full collections and six chapbooks. Her books have won 11 awards. A former Eau Claire resident of more than 20 years, she is now a nationally recognized poet. Her poetry has been called “poignant and powerful.”    

Trojan, now 91, and experiencing macular degeneration, will be reciting her poetry at All That Matters, a reading on Thursday, April 18, from 1:30-3 pm in the third-floor Riverview Room at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. The event is open to the public, and no registration is required.

“I will share poems from all my books at the reading,” Trojan wrote in an email. “I know my audience may expect some ‘fan favorites.’ My poetry is intended for all ages, and it resonates with young and old listeners and readers. My hope is that my audience will be both entertained and inspired to write their own stories.”

Until recently she used her desktop computer to write and submit poetry. She now hand-writes her poems due to her macular degeneration. Her daughters, Lynn and Mary, type them up for submission.

“I prefer to write the end of a poem first, somewhat like a punchline, then write the rest of it, with many revisions,” she wrote. “My poems range from short to page-length at times. I don’t write poetry that rhymes, and I like writing about a variety of topics. I tell a story with attitude, in essence.”

Currently, Trojan is working on a new book of poetry about her mother, to be titled MA, which will join her award-winning published book, PA, a collection of poems about her father. “My father and mother were strong and direct influences on my life,” she wrote. “They were the children of Finnish pioneers in Minnesota, and both wrote their autobiographies later in life.”

Two of her early books draw from her childhood growing up in northwest Wisconsin: Free Range Kids and Home Front: Childhood Memories of WWII.

One of her recent books, River, focuses on her planned retired life with her husband being up-ended when he is suddenly diagnosed with Lewy body dementia and its progression. Yet he does not forget her. “Whenever you fell, you called my name,” she writes in a poem.

The river of the title becomes the framing device for Trojan’s collection, according to a judge who reviewed the book for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. “It is at once the Chippewa River, beside which they both lived and the river Styx that flows between the living and the dead,” wrote the judge. He continues: “This is a rare book of genuine feeling about love in the very jaws of death.”

For info about the reading at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library on April 18, contact Kathy Campbell at • Trojan’s books are available at The Local Store (205 N Dewey St., Eau Claire) or on Amazon.