April 9, 2024

Image & Poetry


Images are a crucial component of poems. 

“Images are not concepts. They do not withdraw into their meaning. Indeed, they tend to go beyond their meaning….If the image that is present does not make us think of one that is absent, if an image does not determine an abundance—an explosion of unusual images, then there is no imagination.”

Gaston Bachelard, French philosopher, 1884-1962l 

April 4, 2024

Moving Words: Writers Across Minnesota

Join Us for Moving Words

Thursday, April 25, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. 

Aitkin Public Library 

110 1st Ave NE

Aitkin, MN 56431

Sheila Packa and Kao Kalia Yang 


The program will last approximately an hour and a half, with a conversation and/or reading followed by
a question-and-answer session.

Listen to the writers on these radio conversations: 



April 1, 2024

MINE: What is Ours in the Wake of Extraction Exhibition Opening September 4, 2024 University of Delaware

Good news! My Geology, a poetry video, has been accepted for the exhibition this year: MINE: What is Ours in the Wake of Extraction


Exhibition Opening: 
University of Delaware, Mechanical Hall Gallery 
September 4th, 2024 - December 13,  2024  

An interdisciplinary multimedia experience bridging art and science to address climate and environmental justice issues by amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities impacted by extraction.

MINE draws parallels between geographic locations with a shared extractive impact. 

January 17, 2024

A Song Cycle: Surface Displacements


The Weber Music Hall stage
Composer Wendy Durrwachter created a song cycle for the title poem in my book, Surface Displacements. It premiered on Saturday January 13, 2024 at the Weber Music Hall on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus.  

The songs were performed by soprano Jennifer Lien while Ms Durrwachter played the piano, and the music reflected the landscape of Lake Superior and the waters and landscape of northern Minnesota.  

photo of the creators


October 16, 2023

Twin Cities Book Festival 2023

The TCBF is sponsored by Rain Taxi, and it was held in the Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Besides 80 exhibitors (Graywolf, Coffee House Press, Holy Cow! Press, Minnesota Press, Magers & Quinn Bookstore, St. Paul's Midway Books, the College of St. Catherine, the University of Minnesota MFA program, Hamline University MFA program, and many other writers and writing-related business, there were several authors reading excerpts of their work through the day's event.  Truly it was the literary event of the year!  

My photo was taken by David Beard for the Perfect Day Duluth website.  The photo of Mary Bode and Julie Gard was taken by me. The two were representing the Lake Superior Writers organization.   

October 13, 2023

A Song Cycle: Surface Displacements

 I'm so excited about the music that composer Wendy Durrwachter has created for the title poem from my book, Surface Displacements. She has preview concert in Grand Marais on October 21, and a premier at the Weber Music Hall this winter in 2024. To learn more about the composer, go to https://www.wendydurrwachter.com/

October 11, 2023

Refresh with Tranströmer

A playlist of Tomas Tranströmer: https://www.coppercanyonpress.org/the-blue-house-playlist-by-patty-crane/

by Tomas Tranströmer

I play Haydn after a dark day

and sense an honest warmth in my hands.

The keys are willing. Mild hammers strike.

The tone is green, lively and still.

The tone says that freedom exists

and that someone does not pay the emperor tribute.

I push the hands deep into my haydnpockets,

mimicking one who quietly watches the world.

I raise the haydnflag — this means:

“We do not surrender. But want peace.”

The music is a glasshouse on the slope

where stones fly, stones roll.

And the stones roll right through

but each pane remains whole.
Original poem in Swedish

Jag spelar Haydn efter en svart dag

och känner en enkel värme i händerna.

Tangenterna vill. Milda hammare slår.

Klangen är grön, livlig och stilla.

Klangen säger att friheten finns

och att någon inte ger kejsaren skatt.

Jag kör ner händerna i mina haydnfickor

och härmar en som ser lugnt på världen.

Jag hissar haydnflaggan — det betyder:

“Vi ger oss inte. Men vill fred.”

Musiken är ett glashus på sluttningen

där stenarna flyger, stenarna rullar.

Och stenarna rullar tvärs igenom

men varje ruta förblir hel.
From Den halvfärdiga himlen, Bonniers 1962
Copyright © Tomas Tranströmer 1962

And finally, this lovely and refreshing poem:  

Tired of all who come with words, words but no language
I went to the snow covered island.
The wild does not have words.
The unwritten pages spread themselves out in all directions!
I came across the marks of roe-deer’s hooves in the snow.

Language but no words.

Tomas Transtomer, Trans. John F. Deane from Selected Poems 1954-1986 – Ed. Robert Hass, The Ecco Press, 1987 p.159

October 4, 2023

2023 Northeastern Minnesota Book Award

"Surface Displacements dives deep into the author’s personal history growing up in Minnesota’s mining country and offers a meditation on the legacy left by decades of mineral excavation. Some poems are elegies to flooded mine pits, tailings ponds, and the scarred landscape, while others explore the timelessness of Lake Superior and the resiliency of nature. The book closes with an essay connecting the author’s Finnish roots, the region’s indigenous history, and the environmental impact mining has had on the Iron Range."

Read more about the NEMBA Awards and see all of the books that received awards in 2023.  https://lakesuperiorwriters.org/2023-nemba-award-winners/

I'm so happy to have this award that honors the landscape, culture, history and people of the northeastern Minnesota region. And I'm happy that the book has also been a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards this year.  

At the University of Minnesota Duluth's Archive

I'm so pleased that the library at UMD created an archive for Duluth's poet laureates. Each individual poet laureate contributed time and talents to promote poetry and expand the reading audience. Now artifacts, video, and writings have been archived. 

This image is a placemat for my "Read It and Feast" project. I published the work of several Lake Superior poets on 4 unique placements.  Altogether 1500 placemats were printed and given out at the fundraiser for the Food Bank, "Empty Bowl," and also used at the Duluth Grill restaurant.  A set of laminated placemats are now at the archive! 

Read about the archival project here: 


September 15, 2023

Upcoming Readings: Fall 2023

It's almost winter!  But before that, here is a list of events that I will be doing. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023 at 5 pm:
 Finlandia Foundation North: Poet Sheila Packa to Present Program at Finnish-American Meeting at Kenwood Lutheran Church, 2720 Myers Avenue, off Arrowhead Road in Duluth. The meeting is free and open to the public.

This is also a meeting of the Lakehead Chapter of the Minnesota Finnish-American Historical Society on Thursday, September 21st at 5pm. We will begin with our Business Meeting at 5pm, followed by coffee at 5:30 pm and our program by Sheila Packa, a poet, writer, and teacher with Minnesota and Finnish roots. Duluth’s Poet Laureate in 2010-2012, Sheila has written five books of poetry, has taught creative writing at Lake Superior College and other community venues, and has published her work in literary magazines and anthologies. She has received awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, two Loft McKnight awards, and a Loft Mentor award in poetry, among other achievements. Her program "Three Rivers: A Poetry Reading” will include a short presentation about a few Finnish poets and an invitation for the audience to write a poem as a guided writing prompt. The author will have her books available for sale. 

October 10, 2023: Twin Ports Perceptions Panel at the Duluth Public Library (downtown) at 6 pm

This fall, the Twin Ports Perceptions project will invite six award-winning Twin Ports authors (three from each side of the bridge) to participate in two moderated panel discussions to talk about how they portray Duluth and Superior in their work, how they grapple with issues of regional identity, and the challenges and joys of writing about where they live. You’re invited to join the discussion and add your perspective to these conversations. How would you characterize the “personalities” of the Twin Ports?

The first discussion will be held at Superior Public Library (1530 Tower Avenue, Superior) on Tuesday, September 26 at 6 p.m. and will include Anthony Bukoski, Carol Dunbar, and Barton Sutter. 

The second discussion will take place at Duluth Public Library (520 West Superior Street, Duluth) on Tuesday, October 10 at 6 p.m. and will include authors Linda LeGarde Grover, Jayson Iwen, and Sheila Packa. Both discussions will be moderated by retired librarian/author/historian Teddie Meronek.

You’re encouraged to familiarize yourself with the work of the participating authors ahead of the event by picking up a free booklet containing writing samples from each author. Booklets can be picked up
at the Superior Public Library in early September and will be available while supplies last. A downloadable version of the booklet is also available on the library’s website. Copies of the authors’ books can be checked out from your public library or purchased locally at Zenith Bookstore, the Bookstore at Fitger’s, and Barnes & Noble.

Two cities. Two nights. Two discussions. Endless possibilities. We hope you’ll join the conversation.

This program is funded in part by a grant from Wisconsin Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wisconsin Humanities strengthens our democracy through educational and cultural programs that build connections and understanding among people of all backgrounds and beliefs throughout the state. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding was also provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

October 15, 2023: 10 am to 5 pm at the Twin Cities Book Festival in Progress Center at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul, Minnesota.  Sheila Packa will have an exhibitor table at the book fair.   

Spring 2024: Moving Words at the Aitkin Library - more details to be announced