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Poetry Reading 'A Patchwork Elk'

  • Overview

    Join us Saturday, February 2nd from 2:00 - 3:00pm for a Book Talk/Reading with Poet Mark Widrlechner as he reads from his latest book, ‘A Patchwork Elk’.  Books will be available for signing and sale during the reading.

    Inspired by Simone Muench’s powerful little book, “Wolf Centos,”  poet, Mark WidrlechnerMark embarked on a creative journey to create his own book of Centos.  The cento is a unique form of poetry that probably originated with the bards of Ancient Rome.  Each line in a cento is borrowed from a past poet, and those lines are then rewoven together to express something entirely new.  Simone's centos were quite riveting and dealt with much more than wolves.  The name “cento” comes from the Classical Latin word for making a patchwork or quilt.

     Mark has assembled a collection of nearly 100 of those centos into a book entitled, “A Patchwork Elk.”  It brings together lines from more than 400 poets and is illustrated with wonderful photo collages created by Bree, a remarkable visual artist and poet in her own right, who makes her home in Kentucky. 

    Mark Widrlechner came to Iowa 35 years ago, where he has spent much of his career as a horticulturist (and is now an affiliate faculty member at Iowa State University).  He currently divides his time between Ames and Silver City, New Mexico.  About seven years ago, shortly before his retirement, he unexpectedly began to write poetry after a very long hiatus.  These verses are often inspired by the natural world, the Iowa landscape and travels further afield.  Mark has assembled three collections of his poetry, "This Wildest Year," "A Short Geography of Remembrance," and "A Fragrant Cloud Rose," which are available as e-books accessible through ISU's Parks Library at http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ebooks/.  In 2016, he produced a deck of poem playing cards, entitled "Last Month's Omens," and, in 2018, completed a longer-term project to create collaborative poems by publishing a collection of collaborations involving 20 writers, entitled "What We Need."