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Logan City Poet Laureate Collects Poetry From Cache Valley

The Logan City Poet Laureate Shannon Ballam is collecting poetry for her Logan City Poet Laureate project entitled "A Celebration of Cache Valley Voices."

For her project, Ballam is collecting poetry from current and former Cache Valley residents and publishing them on her website. 


“I already had a website up and I just thought, well, I'll just try it," Ballam said. "So I redesigned the website and started putting up poems from people who had attended my workshops. And so that's how it started. And now I've just decided to push it further and to try to possibly get a hardcopy anthology.” 


The project began in January 2020. So far, there are about 30 poems on the site with several more lined up to be published before the end of the month. Ballam is aiming to publish 5-10 new poets each month. 


“My goal is to get at least 70 into a hardcopy anthology that I would then publish next spring," Ballam said. "But then continue the digital project throughout my tenure as Poet Laureate, and just continue to solicit poems from people that I know, students, community members, but also to ask people to reach out to me.” 


Brittney Allen is one of the poets that has submitted poetry to the project. She worked closely with Ballam while studying at Utah State University. 


“I was already in tune with the community," Allen said. "And so I got more into I guess, the pulse of my own work, and the work of Shanon Ballam, herself, you know, I studied her writings, directly. And so I was able to just be on the ball and to be in the groups that were talking about these events and the Celebration of Cache Valley Voices, so I knew about it, and I was happy to submit and participate.” 


Allen has two poems in the collection, titled January and Alaska, both she describes as having “a tinge of hope.”


"In both these poems, it was an exercise in, in doing what I could and offering what beauty I could through words, you know, and hope and making those wishes and dreams kind of concrete, even if only in the written word," Allen said.


And hope is something that a lot of people could use right now. Ballam says that “poetry is a place where we can heal.”


"A quote from Robert Frost that I always think about is, ‘poetry is a momentary stay against the confusion,’" Ballam said. "So I think, you know, if we all pause a little bit, you know, and think about it, and organize our thoughts in a poem, that can be a stay against this confusion that we are living inside.”


Ballam says this project is important because anybody can be apart of it if they want to.


“Many people do write poetry," Ballam said. "Many people do. From you know, little kids, like a four year old just learning to write until, you know, up until the deathbed people turn to poetry. They love poetry. And I would just want to gather as many voices as possible to represent this time in our history.”