Marty Achatz was more than a little surprised to be nominated as the Upper Peninsula Poet Laureate for a second time.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted," he says. "Stunned for a couple days."
Regardless of what Achatz says, the Ishpeming native is a fan favorite for a reason. Reading his poems you can feel the pangs of heartache and moments of joy in equal measure.
His poems are simple. The language is easy to comprehend on first listen, so he thinks people who don’t read much poetry tend to get something out of it.
Achatz says the Upper Peninsula is ripe for writing poetry. He says the hardships of living there, like making it through six months of winter, can be tough on his spirit. But Achatz says he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
"I don’t know of anyplace else in the United States where I can step out my front door in the morning and I can see an albino whitetail walking down the street," he says. "That’s what really draws me and keeps me here in the U.P., is that really hard beauty that exists and that sort of fuels what I do."
Achatz is currently working on two collections of poems, one of which is about the North American folklore figure Bigfoot. He says the poem, "Bigfoot Tries to Fix his Daughter's Broken Heart" is about the kinds of deeper struggles that every person goes through.
"That’s what poetry really is all about," he says. "It’s about giving words to situations and emotions that are really difficult to express."
Achatz will travel all around the U.P. to spread his poetry and highlight the poets of the region who many may not know. His first stop will be a reading at the Joy Center in Ishpeming in early April.
Correction: In a previous version of this story we incorrectly pronounced the name of Marty Achatz.