NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley

Join your neighbors as we read “An American Sunrise” by Joy Harjo

For the 8th year in a row, the St. Croix Valley has been chosen as an NEA Big Read community. The NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is a one book, one community program that brings together residents from throughout the lower St. Croix Valley in Minnesota and Wisconsin around a common book. Art programming in 2022 will be centered on themes found in An American Sunrise: Poems by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.

Keep watching for additional information about 2022 NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley programming schedule to take place in April. A full calendar of events will be available in early March.


Read & Release copies of An American Sunrise will be available at ArtReach St. Croix beginning on January 8. If the gallery is closed, check the Little Free Library for a copy.


Meet the Poets of Place

In December 2021, ArtReach St. Croix announced the five St. Croix Valley poets who will be advocates and ambassadors for poetry and creativity in the lower St. Croix Valley through Poets of Place. Similar to a poet laureate program, the Poets of Place program seeks to be representative of the rich and diverse cultures of poetry in the region.

Heidi Barr lives in Lindstrom, MN with her husband and daughter, where they tend to a large vegetable garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply. She works as a wellness coach, holds a master’s degree in Faith and Health Ministries and is the Managing Editor of Wayfarer Magazine.  Author of several books of nonfiction, she is committed to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities, and the planet. Her next poetry collection, Slouching Toward Radiance, is forthcoming from Homebound Publications in 2022.

Mike Forecki divides his time between the bluffs near Osceola, WI overlooking the St. Croix River and Florida’s southern Gulf Coast. For the past 40 years, he has lived and practiced law in Western Wisconsin. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 1981, he received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He started writing poetry when he semi-retired almost ten years ago. His poems are published in various magazines, including Bramble, Barstow and Grand and Volume One.

Lee Kisling has lived in Hudson, WI since 1988. He is a working poet, a retired engineer of railroad signal systems and has been married for almost 50 years. He is a father of two and a grandfather. He graduated from Hamline University in 2014 with a degree in Creative Writing. He has several published works, including his novel The Fools’ War, a chapbook of poetry titled The Lemon Bars of Parnassus and a book of small poems titled Add to Cart. He has also had his poems published in many small presses and journals and one of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Rosetta Peters is a poet, an author, a public speaker, an activist and a resident of Marine on St. Croix, MN. She is of Yankton, Crow Creek and Oglala descent. A procrastinator to the point of detriment and lover of the natural world. Rosetta has had her poetry published in the Yellow Medicine Review. She wasrecently awarded the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant to professionally record and release an album of her spoken word and performance poetry and the MRAC Next Step Grant for creative support for the completion of her memoir, The Spider and The Rose.

River Urke has lived in the St. Croix Valley for the last fifteen years, mainly in Stillwater, MN and the last three years in River Falls, WI. Her work is heavily influenced by her battle with multiple sclerosis and her native blood. River is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Stumbled & Standing and when spirits touch, as well as the nonfiction book Women’s Obsession with Shoes. She is a contributor in six anthologies, including the St. Paul Almanac and the Yellow Medicine Review. River is a member of the League of MN Poets and Mississippi Valley Poets.

These selected poets will participate in literary events at area libraries, will promote poetry and the Poets of Place program and will present their poems at a chapbook launch event in late April. 


NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is presented by ArtReach St. Croix in conjunction with core program partners including Valley Bookseller, Stillwater Public Library and other library branches located between St. Croix Falls, WI, and Hastings, MN.