Dennis Hinrichsen

Poet Laureate for Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties from May 2017 to May 2019. His background includes a BA in English with a creative writing emphasis from Western Michigan University, as well as an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.  He has seven books of poetry published, as well as two chapbooks. In May of 2015, local artists responded to his poems and made some amazing work—drawings, watercolors, metalwork—which was displayed at Keys to Creativity in the Lansing Mall.

"I have lived and worked in the Lansing area for over 30 years, primarily as a professor of English at Lansing Community College. I also have experience taking poetry into the classroom where I worked with students in lower and upper elementary classrooms in the local school districts. So I am looking forward to being a conduit for poetry to writers of all ages in our communities.

The focus of the year one project will be on Poems of Place. These places might be those landscapes that are secret and hidden and, therefore, special to us. For example, you might write about a favorite bend in a river at a particular time of day. Or an abandoned barn. You might write about waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of the train in the distance (this is something I love). Or early spring light or winter sunsets. These poems also might explore the history of a place, what is hidden. Poems might also explore how place shapes our identity. Here, you might explore race, class and cultural issues, LGBT issues.

And given that where we live is the grounding point of our connection to the larger world, poems could also illuminate those connections and make them concrete. Where we live is also where we stand up and raise our voices to advocate for alternative points of view, to argue for what is human. So the project idea is wide open and up to you to explore with your five senses and imagination, all you need as a writer. "