Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ah, January

Meet Doris Stengel, poet and author from Brainerd, MN.
Doris's newest book "Arrival and Departure"
is an endearing collection of poetry that takes the reader off to distant times and places and returns us back again-with a renewed heart. 
I had the privilege of interviewing Doris. I gained insight into her life as a poet and writer with some bonus information pieces about her latest book. The  following piece is an article I wrote for the January issue Lakes Area Living, a Brainerd, MN magazine.  At the end of the article I included the full text of Doris's poem Ah, January.

Ah, January
Heavy-footed January edges on to the stage
after lights, camera and action are done,
after gifts, eggnog, and Good Will to men.

Opening lines from Ah, January, a poem from Doris Stengel’s latest book “Arrival and Departure”, illustrate her skilled use of metaphors producing a thought provoking poem. 

This is Stengel’s third book of poetry, which includes "Horizons Measured" and "Small Town Lines." Her newest poetry collection takes readers off to distant times and places, returning them back again with a renewed heart. Many of the poems are shaped by Doris’s roots and history growing up on the North Dakota prairies. While some of the poems are serious and sad they capture poignant moments that fill the reader with a sense of hopefulness and a joyful spirit. Stengel’s poems also contain a fair amount of humor as evidenced in Ah, January.  
The collection of poems tackles a variety of topics with Doris’s deft and creative touch. Her work resonates long after you’ve read it. 

Stengel remembers having her first poems published when she was just 9 or 10 years old in the "Dakota Farmer." Writing poetry comes easily for Doris, but she says, “The hard part is finding new things to say in a fresh way.”

Doris graduated from the University of North Dakota.  Her family settled in the Brainerd area in the late 60’s. She has taught in different capacities within the Brainerd Schools.  In the early 1990s, Stengel joined a new poet's group in Brainerd.  "That's how I grew, I started reading to other people, and we would critique each other," 

Doris has mentored students of all ages in poetry. She is a member of Heartland Poets in Brainerd, The League of Minnesota Poets and the National Federations of State Poetry Societies. Doris has served as president for each of these organizations.  Her poetry has been published in several journals, magazines, and anthologies.

At times Doris considers herself a bit of an undisciplined writer. She writes when the spirit or her writing group pushes her towards a particular form or subject. Doris feels often the poem itself will dictate its form or shape. Attendance at conventions, writing retreats and poetry gatherings inspire Doris to stretch in new directions helping her bring a fresh approach to writing.  

It’s no surprise that Doris is one of Minnesota’s well known poets. In September she was honored by Five Wings Grants program with a title Master Artist in the literary field.  A monetary award attached to this Master Artist title was provided from the McKnight Foundation in St. Paul.MN. Doris remains humbled with this unexpected award and excited about future opportunities to share her craft. 

Doris hopes her readers will discover some of their own arrivals and departures in their lives. A person's life is constantly filled with both. She is grateful to her mentor, John Rezmerski, who helped set her poetry free.  

Copies of “Arrival and Departure” are available on Amazon and at Crossing Arts Alliance Brainerd, MN. 
Ah, January
Heavy-footed January edges on to the stage
after lights, camera and action are done,
after gifts, eggnog, and Good Will to men.

December, the star, whisked on her way
signing  autographs, ending another successful run,
leaving in her wake the unpaid Visa bills.

January looks out on a snowy set
no longer deep and crisp and even,
deeper, crustier, more than slightly soiled.

Cold theater, questionable script,
thirty-one days of rehearsing,
all practice, no clapping audience.

Worst of all, that little slip of an ingenue,
February, waits in the wings in miniskirt,
giggling promises of hearts and chocolates.

Poem reprinted with author permission from book "Arrival and Departure" by Doris Stengel.


  1. Thank you for telling us more about Doris and for sharing her delightful poem.

  2. Yes her poems are great (love her style) a master at metaphors.

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