(135 Total References)
For David Bengtson
Publication of a book 20 years
in the making is a dream come true
For David Bengtson
, the publication of his
book "Broken Lines", a collection of prose poems 20 years and countless trips on Highway 71 in the making, is a dream come true and an affirmation of his
belief that many people are at the core of any writer's success."Broken Lines", 71 narrative poems meticulously crafted by Bengtson in the classroom, at the kitchen table, in various coffee shops and in his head while driving to points north and south on Highway 71, was recently published by Juniper Press of St. Paul.
, who lives in Long Prairie
wife Marilyn, taught English at the high school in Long Prairie
for more than 33 years, retiring in 2002.His desire to be a better teacher brought Bengtson into close contact with the world of poetry and once he was in that world, Bengtson became an enthusiastic teacher, writer, nurturer, and supporter of poetry.
Just a few years into his
teaching career Bengtson felt "inadequate" when it came to teaching poetry and was motivated "to do something about that".He
signed up for a week-long extension course designed for "teachers afraid of poetry".
That connection with Browne turned into a mentorship and friendship that spiraled into many more connections and friendships for Bengtson
, leading him in many directions and leading, serendipitously, in the direction of the publication of "Broken Lines".
Olson and Bengtson
have maintained a close friendship ever since.
Olson called and asked how many more pieces there were and when Bengtson
told him there were more than 100, Olson replied, "I think we might have a book here".
, "I always hoped these pieces would become a book, but I had no idea how or when that would happen.
Several of Bengtson's
"Broken Line" poems live outside the pages of the book in video poems by Mike Hazard and George Aguilar and in a collection of photographs and poems.
has also used the pieces to create five video poems.
is writing, developing video poems and conducting writing, video poetry and teacher education workshops.
"Who would have guessed that within two years of retirement, two books would come out.That is beyond anything I could have imagined," he
said.He will be a visiting writer at St. Mary's College of Maryland Artist House program in October.While a teacher, Bengtson played host to one of St. Mary's most beloved instructors, poet Lucille Clifton.
said many, many people have provided encouragement, support and guidance on every step of his
journey from teacher to writer and he
is very grateful to all of them.He
added, "The one person who has always been there for me, and who has always been honest and supportive is my wife Marilyn.
was tutored by three writers who made a lasting impression, Linda Hasselstrom, Michael True and David Ignatow.
As the years unfolded, Bengtson
kept writing and also encouraged his
students to write.He
challenged their minds and helped them become better writers by bringing visiting writers into the classroom.
"Broken Lines" began as a journal.Bengtson
wrote some of the poems in class, taking part in the same writing exercises he
or the visiting writers suggested for his
, the short prose format was a natural adaptation to having limited time to write.He
didn't start out to write a book, but over the years Bengtson created numerous prose poems with the recurring unnamed characters of "he
" and "she
, "I felt that if I could select and arrange the pieces, that I might have a book.
But through it all, Bengtson
said, "It is clear that the characters care about each other, love each other and that the brokenness they experience will not destroy their relationship."He
added, "I always wondered how I would know when I had written the last piece.Since I retired from teaching I haven't written anything about these two characters.Often what was driving the writing was connected to things going on inside and around me during the last 20 years of teaching."
The pieces started out as lined poems, but Bengtson
felt they worked better as blocks of prose.Bengtson was drawn into the form when he took a class called "The Prose Poem" while completing a masters degree at the University of Minnesota.
Through the course, taught by Browne, Bengtson
discovered that there is "a rich history of prose poetry".
Board Members |
David Bengtson grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, and moved to Minnesota to attend Concordia College in Moorhead.
From 1968-2002, he taught English at the high school in Long Prairie, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Marilyn.
In addition to three chapbooks and a collection of 71 prose poems, his writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has been heard on "The Writer's Almanac.
In 2003 at "Poetry Hour," sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service on the Mississippi River Stage at the Minnesota State Fair, he handed out his first batch of "Poems-on-Sticks.
Since then, he has given away more than 7000 "Poems-on-Sticks" at readings, workshops, and presentations.
COMPAS - Board of Directors
About The CIE
- David Bengtson, poet and teacher, Long Prairie Grey Eagle High School