Poetry on the High Plains

On October 13 and 14, the High Plains Cultural Center hosted the Dunn County Writers’ Poetry on the High Plains. Around 50 people were in attendance on Friday night for the poetry event, and 13 people attended the writer’s workshop on Saturday. Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, Mark Trechock, and Keith Traquair brought their incredible talents to Killdeer for this outstanding event.

By Nicole Nowitzki

Carol Kapaun Ratchenski is the author of the novels, Mamababy and A Beautiful Hell, has been writing and publishing short stories, essays, and poems for over 30 years, and has also appeared in many other works. She is a leading figure in narrative poetry and is working on a memoir in prose poems. During her time away from writing, she is a therapist and owner of the Center for Compassion and Creativity, in Fargo. At the event, she read from her novel, discussed poetry’s place in our lives, and created a workshop that allowed participants to write and create poetry together using exercises and examples

Mark Trechock became interested in poetry at his hometown Minneapolis high school, and he began taking creative writing classes. In the 1970’s, his first poems were published. He has lived here for 24 years, and he served as the director of Dakota Resource Council after he retired from pastoring. After he retired from his directorship, he resumed writing poetry. After a long hiatus, Farm Eggs was published in 2015, and he’s had more than 50 poems published since then and received a Pushcart Prize nomination. He believes that his narrative poems are anchored in experiences from the real world with a focus on ordinary people in extraordinary times.

Also in attendance was Keith Traquair. He created a wonderful ambiance during dinner and social hour serenading everyone with his lovely music. Keith was named 1983 Keyboard Player of the Year by the Dallas Observer. He is a professional musician that has taught music, played for different shows and organizations, and was a road manager for a country singer named Janie Fricke for two years in 1992. He returned to North Dakota in 1995 and has taught in Bowman, Beulah, and Dickinson ever since.

The Dunn County Writers’ is a nonprofit group of 15 regional writers. “We hope to make this another memorable cultural arts opportunity for our community,” said Executive Director Jennifer Strange. The attendees had an amazing time and learned so much.


The Dunn County Writers’ program is funded in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council, with co-sponsorships from Cobblestone Hotel & Suites, Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, Dickinson Area Public Library, Dunn County Herald, Dunn County Historical Society & Museum, Heart River Writers’ Circle, High Plains Cultural Center, Quality Quick Print, SM Fencing & Oilfield Services. Additional support comes from 2 7/8 Bar, CashWise, DLN Consulting, Dunn Center Pub & Grub, First International Bank & Trust, KMM, Nana Lil’s Café and Western Choice Coop. “These generous donations of money and time make it possible for us to bring quality programming to our underserved rural region,” Strange said. “We are very appreciative of all the individuals, businesses and organizations that help the DCW fulfill its mission of building community around the cultural arts.”

Their mission is to preserve a written legacy of the people of the region and to build community around the cultural arts. The monthly writing sessions, publishing projects, and events invite and encourage writing across a broad and inclusive base of background, topic, and life experience. DCW produces a semiannual Visiting Writer Series and publishes an annual booklet of original writing. DCW meets the first Monday of every month, 6-8 p.m. MT, at the Dunn County Museum, in Dunn Center, and all are welcome to join.

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