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“Poets at the Grand Hotel” continues history of bringing literary culture to Mackinac Island

Flickr user Joey Lax-Salinas

"Poets at the Grand Hotel" is a chance for Mackinac Island visitors to take time out from soaking up the sights, riding bikes, and eating fudge to explore poetry.

Every Wednesday morning in July and August,poet Jim Lenfestey presides over a weekly poetry gathering in the Audubon Room at The Grand Hotel.

This is the 10th year of the series and it's being marked by Lenfestey's latest book, Seeking The Cave.

The Grand Hotel has a long tradition of bringing literary culture to the island. Lenfestey says before his time at the hotel a professor of theater had taught a class on Shakespeare for 25 years. 

Now Lenfestey's class follows the same weekly format. The class is once a week for eight weeks and each week focuses on a different poet.

"Every year I keep finding poets I love. I thought I'd run out after a couple of years, but it continues," he says.

The format moves through history each week, starting the summer with ancient poets and ending with living poets.

"Nobody has any particular requirement to know or care about poetry, but rather what they're going to learn is about who this person was, what they said, and how it touches them."

Lenfestey has a background in journalism and he expresses an appreciation for the differences between reporting and writing poetry. He sees journalism as a relentless pursuit of the facts of the outside world, while poetry is a search within you.

"These poems come out of the body; in fact, you want to get your head out of the way," he says.

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