OVERVIEW: Montana Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Humanities Montana
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: K-12 Institutions, Libraries, Other Subject: History, K-12 Education, Other, Poetry, Varies Audience: All, K-12, Rural Communities, Youth/Teen

Humanities Montana produced over 70 events, including over two dozen radio segments, over 48 classroom presentations, and the creation of a new website, Mapping Pulitzer Poems. All of the programming was designed to actively engage people with the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. More than 4,000 people attended Pulitzer events in person and over 1,400 students engaged with Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.

Missoula Writing Collaborative Pulitzer Poetry in Schools (January-May 2016)

This program taught Pulitzer writing lessons using the poetry of Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Robert Hass, Theodore Roethe, Mark Strand, Galway Kinnell, W.S. Merwin, and Charles Simic. These lessons were taught by Montana writers Robert E. Lee, Caroline Keys, Marnie Prange, Rachel Mindell, Sheryl Noethe, Dana Fitz Gale, Mark Gibbons, and Alex Alviar during twenty-four classroom visits. Participating schools included:

  • Ovando School, Potomac Elementary School,
  • Arlee Elementary, Florence Elementary School
  • Lolo Elementary, Ronan Schools
  • Pablo Elementary School
  • Sussex School
  • Lowell Elementary School
  • Lewis and Clark Elementary,
  • Hawthorne Elementary
  • Paxson Elementary
  • Big Sky High School
  • Rattlesnake Elementary
  • Russell Elementary School
  • Cold Springs School

Arts Without Boundaries Pulitzer Poetry in Schools (February-April 2016)

This program put professional writers in classrooms for poetry workshops focused on specific Pulitzer Prize winning poems. Classroom lessons included Sensory Writing (using “Chocolate” by Rita Dove), Animals as Inspiration (using “Hummingbirds” by Mary Oliver), Monsters (using “The New Zombie” by Rae Armantrout), Sonic Places (using “Sicilian Emigrant’s Song” by William Carlos Williams), Jargon and Metaphor (using “Imaginary Number” by Vijay Seshadri), and Conversation and Performance (using “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks).  The 24 classroom visits were to Orchard Elementary, Broadwater Elementary, and Bench Elementary in the Billings area.

Reflections West (2016)

Reflections West, a statewide 5-minute weekly radio program broadcast on Montana Public Radio and Yellowstone Public Radio, created 15 episodes featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry and reflections inspired by the poems. Each episode was broadcast twice for a total of 30 arings.

Pulitzer Out Loud (March 11, 2016)
Community members shared Pulitzer-Prize winning poems in a kick-off event for the spring Pulitzer programming. This event was hosted by Slam Poet Champions Anna Paige and Pete Tolton.

Video interview with Pulitzer-winning poet Gary Snyder (March 16, 2016)
Poet Cara Chamberlain played a film interview of Pulitzer-winning poet Gary Snyder and led a discussion following the viewing.          

Vijay Seshadri Reading followed by interview with Matt Brown (March 24, 2016)
Pulitzer-Prize Winning Poet Seshadri read from his work and answered questions from Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Matt Brown.

Video interview with Pulitzer-winning poet Sharon Olds (March 30, 2016)
Poet Cara Chamberlain played an interview with Pulitzer-winning poet Sharon Olds and led a discussion.

Video interview with a Pulitzer-winning poet Maxine Kumin (April 6, 2016)
Poet Cara Chamberlain played an interview with a Pulitzer-winning poet Maxine Kumin and led a discussion. 

Strong Is Your Hold: An Evening of the Poetry of Galway Kinnell (April 13, 2016)
Dave Caserio presented a multi-media collaboration of poetry, music, dance and reminiscence with Parker Brown and Krista Leigh-Pasini on the work of the late Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award- winning poet, Galway Kinnell.
The Art of Meaningful Conversation, “Good Fences, Good Neighbors” (April 20, 2016)
Using Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall,” Poet Lowell Jaeger facilitated an engaging conversation with audience members about topics important to their lives.

Poetry Workshop Inspired by Kay Ryan’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poetry (April 23, 2016)
A hands-on community-based workshop for writers of all levels that included a copy of Ryan’s The Best of It: New and Selected Poems for all participants.

National Student Poet Anna Lance Tours Montana (April 24-29, 2016)

Anna Lance appeared in middle school and high school classrooms, university writing workshops and readings for the general public in Missoula, Arlee, and Billings.

Favorite Pulitzer Poems: Community Reading (May 2, 2016)
Members of the Big Sky Writing Workshops read poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poets and invited community members to share their favorite Pulitzer poems.

Mapping Pulitzer Poetry (June 2016)

The site debuted in June featuring 11 Pulitzer Prize-winning poets’ work. Using Google Maps technology, the website situates particular verses on the map with photos and information about each poet and poem.

Gregory Pardlo Classroom Visits (September 22, 2016)

Gregory Pardlo visited two Missoula high schools to read from his collection of poetry and lead discussion.

Community Pulitzer Conversations led by Lowell Jaeger (January – September, 2016)

Lowell Jaeger created a catalog of initiating poems and discussion guides and led 16 community conversations around the state throughout the year (discussion guide attached). He worked with the Montana Academy in Marion, MT, students at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Reservation, many groups of young adults working with the Montana Conservation Corps, the Center for Restorative Justice in Kalispell, and the general public at the Billings Public Library.

Montana Book Festival

  • Pulitzer Poetry Dispenser (September 20-25, 2016)

A hand sculpted Poetry Dispenser was filled with poetry by Pulitzer poets this year.

  • Gregory Pardlo Reading and Signing (September 232016)

Pulitzer-Prize Winning Poet Gregory Pardlo read (with Eileen Myles) from his work in the historic Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula as part of the 17th annual Montana Book Festival.

  • A Reading of Her Own (September 20-25, 2016)

This book festival kick-off reading was part of a series hosted by Helena Area Literary Arts that showcased  800 word prose by those who identify as female. For the Montana Book Fest, readers shared prose inspired in some way by Pulitzer-winning poets. The series imposes no limits on topic, no preference to those with better stories or better writing, simply presenting women and their stories. Readers are planned in advance, but pieces and topics are not screened.

  • Layers of Landscape: A Pulitzer Poetry Workshop with Joe Wilkins (September 20-25, 2016)

Author Joe Wilkins led a poetry workshop open to the public inspired by Pulitzer poets Natasha Trethewey and Philip Levine. The workshop focused on the power of place, particularly in our increasingly technological and industrial landscape. Wilkins used the poems of Trethewey and Levine to guide discussion and lead into prompts for in-session writing.

Major partnerships included:

  • Montana Public Radio
  • Yellowstone Public Radio
  • Montana Public Schools
  • Billing Public Library
  • Montana State University
  • The Western Heritage Center
  • Wilma Theater

Programs and events occurred in:

  • Missoula, MT
  • Billings, MT
  • Arlee, MT
  • Helena, MT

Pulitzer Prize winners in attendance included:

  • Gregory Pardlo (Poetry– 2015)

To go back to the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires spotlight page, please click the purple button at the bottom of the page.