Trails Day Poetry

As a component of Mariposa County’s celebration of National Trails Day on June 4, the Arts Council invites the community to write original poetry and create cover art that explores their feelings and experiences with America’s trails and wild spaces. Registration is open now.

With a simple curriculum designed by Megan Levad Beisner, the Arts Council will send registered participants writing prompts via postcard between the months of April and June. Each postcard includes space to create cover art (optional) and to reply to Megan’s curated prompt with an original poem of your own. The prompts are engaging for all ages – classrooms and teachers are encouraged to sign up.

Selected participant poems will be published in a community chapbook, and any interested participants are invited to read their poems out loud during the Mariposa Trails Day event.

Mariposa Trails Day on June 4th will start at the Mariposa County Art Park (5013 CA-140, Mariposa, CA 95338) at 9 a.m. and will take place across recreation locations in Mariposa, including the Mariposa Creek Parkway and the Stockton Creek Preserve. Hosted by the Mariposa County Trails Day Steering Committee, the event “… aims to bring together all trail enthusiasts to discover the mental and physical health benefits of the outdoors in our community.” says Steering Committee member, Ralph Mendershausen.

The Arts Council will have special programming around 10:45 a.m. at the Art Park stage, featuring a speaker talk from our Executive Director Cara Goger and followed by special poetry readings from renowned Davis poet, Michael Mlekoday. Trails Day Poetry participants are encouraged to arrive and read at this time, emceed by Megan Levad.

Trails Day will be activated by many community partners, business and non-profit offering activities surrounding trail recreation, stewardship, and community health. Event attendees may enjoy facilitated hikes, biking and river rafting; fly fishing lessons; native plant walks, plein air painting, public health and safety practices, live music and more.

Megan Levad Beisner (she/her) is the author of Why We Live in the Dark Ages and What Have I to Say to You. A recent MacDowell Fellow, her poems have appeared in Tin House, San Francisco Chronicle, Poem-a-Day, Granta, Fence, and the Everyman’s Library anthology Killer Verse. Megan also writes lyrics and libretti; When There Are Nine, a song cycle about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg composed by Kristin Kuster, recently debuted at the Cabrillo Festival in Summer 2019, where Megan was the Writer-in-Residence.

Born and raised in rural Iowa, Megan earned her BA in English from The University of Iowa and her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopwood Program’s Theodore Roethke Prize and was selected by Mary Ruefle for a Zell Postgraduate Fellowship. For several years after the MFA, Megan taught creative writing and ran the visiting writers series at Michigan. She has since lived and taught in Boise, San Francisco, and Los Alamos. She is now the Creative Director at Fahey Associates, and teaches ethics and social justice classes for Boise State from her home with her husband and son in Midpines near Yosemite National Park.

Michael Mlekoday (they/them) lives in the Putah Creek watershed of California, teaching classes on hip-hop, Gothic literature, and wilderness poetics. A National Poetry Slam Champion, Mlekoday co-founded Button Publishing and currently serves as Poetry Editor of Ruminate Magazine and Editor of The Lichening (coming soon!).

Mlekoday’s first book, The Dead Eat Everything, was chosen by Dorianne Laux as winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. Their second book, All Earthly Bodies, was chosen by Patricia Smith for the Miller Williams Poetry Series. Their work has won the Florida Review Editors’ Prize, the AWP Intro Journals Award, and the Katharine Bakeless Nason scholarship from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference. Mlekoday descends from the West Slavic tribes of Central Europe and was born on the banks of the Mississippi River — in lands the Dakota people and their ancestors have called home for thousands of years. They currently live in the homelands of the Patwin people.