Poet Michael Lee works in the newly renovated Artist Residency space at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro, Minn

Poet is Lanesboro’s Artist in Residence


Public poetry reading by Lee and students 

Sunday, January 18, 2015, at 4 p.m.

Minneapolis poet Michael Lee is Lanesboro’s new Artist in Residence, as well as Lanesboro Arts’ 40th residency artist since the program began in 2001.

While in Lanesboro January 5 to 19, 2015, Lee will work on writing and editing for his forthcoming manuscript, “Heaven Face.” For the community outreach component of his residency, Lee will lead a series of workshops with Jo Anne Agrimson’s seventh grade students from Rushford-Peterson Middle School. (Agrimson’s own poem was selected as one of 15 poems chosen from over 70 entries to be featured on signage at the Bass Pond parking lot in Lanesboro.) He will guide the students in developing original poems about their personal and communal identities, while looking at these concepts through new lenses as if in a myth-like reality. The public is invited to attend a culminating event on Sunday, January 18, 2015, at 4 p.m. at the St. Mane Theatre in Lanesboro, Minn., where Lee and students will read original poetry written and developed during his residency. The event is free and open to the public.

Lee is a poet, with an aura of energy and intensity about life, a ready smile, and tattoos up his arms. He has found considerable success as a young writer absent a college degree, with notable publications in journals such as Indiana Review, and has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Intermedia Arts. He has received national recognition for poetry slam performances, and ranked in the top 10 at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam Championship. His two passions are poetry and youth work; Lee is a teaching artist and youth counselor for homeless teens in Minneapolis. “My goal for the Lanesboro residency, simply put, is to write and edit tirelessly,” he says. “Heaven Face,” his first full-length manuscript, centers around the murder of a close childhood friend and the world of drugs, alcohol and psychosis Lee fell into following his friend’s death. While hinging on immense loss, the book also finds reprieve, resurrection and transformation in a mythologization of childhood, physical labor, nature and memory.

Lee is also eager to work with the seventh grade students as a valuable part of his residency. “As an educator and a poet, I have found that hosting workshops is essential for the development of my own work. It is easy to forget one’s advice and knowledge when facing one’s own work — ‘be specific,’ ‘show don’t tell’ — however, a steady practice of critiquing other’s work allows a writer to remain privy to their own lessons,” he says.

Since its inception in 2001, Lanesboro Arts has brought 39 artists to Lanesboro for artist residencies. Lee’s project was awarded one of two 2015 residencies by a panel of arts professionals, from a pool of more than 50 applicants of artists nationwide. The Lanesboro Residency Program provides opportunities for emerging artists to create new work and integrate work into the local community. Lanesboro arts residencies include stipend, lodging and studio space. The annual application deadline is June 30. For guidelines or more information, contact Lanesboro Arts at 507-467-2446 or info@lanesboroarts.org.


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