Meet the first Poet Laureate of Bayfield County

Howard Paap, Bayfield County's first Poet Laureate.

BAYFIELD – A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Howard Paap, has been chosen by the Bayfield Carnegie Library as the Poet Laureate for Bayfield. Paap will serve in this inaugural post until 2019. He will be required to write one poem per year for presentation and publication.

In the Navy, Paap would write letters home and that sparked Paap’s interest in writing – which has continued on. Paap, who grew up on farm and has lived in rural Wisconsin towns hopes his poetry will reflect the common landscape, human or otherwise, that Bayfield residents can connect to.

About poetry, Paap, a long-time poet told the Ashland Daily Press, “A poem needs to cut to the quick. It should be reductionism at its best. Brevity, but with an essential liveliness, one that strikes the heart. A good poem must take our words away. Herein lies one of the wonderful paradoxes of poetry: it is presented in words, but they must point to silence, a silence that fulfills.”

The Ashland Daily Press reports

“Writing both prose and poetry has been important to me for much of my life,” Paap said. “I recall writing little poems and essays in my early school days, and this continued up to today.”

Paap, who grew up in rural Wisconsin on a series of small dairy farms, said that he’s been influenced by poets like Robert Munro, Rob Ganson, Ted Gephart, Pablo Neruda, Robert Bly, Adelaide Crapsey, Mary Oliver and Walt Whitman. He also said that three events changed his life in major ways — meeting his wife, having children, and his discovery and study of anthropology.

“Today I see my world through anthropologically colored glasses,” he said. “I can never go back. The culture concept, the Ojibwe people, and the world.”

Paap said that languages in general always have intrigued him. He’s studied American-English, German, Spanish, Finnish, and now Ojibwe.
“I love them all,” he said.
For more on Bayfield County’s first Poet Laureate, visit Ashland Daily Press

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