Poet to speak about life at the South Pole


When most think of Antarctica, more than likely thoughts of desolation and perhaps a few scientists being blasted by the cold come to mind. However, one poet struggled through the brutal winds and stood side-by-side with those scientists to use work and the habitat as inspiration for her writing.

Kathleen Heideman, NMU alumna, poet and arts educator, will give presentations Thursday and Friday regarding her recent trip to Antarctica and will also read other poetry she has written.

Heideman, who graduated from Northern in 1994, is being brought to campus by Committee W, which is comprised of faculty interested in women’s issues and VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood.

In honor of March being Women’s History Month, the groups wanted a female alumna to speak to NMU students and decided on Heideman after seeing her lengthy resumé, said Carol Strauss-Sotiropoulos, associate professor of modern languages and literature and chair of Committee W.

“I think it’s very inspiring to see someone who has graduated from this university have so many accomplishments in so many dimensions,” said Strauss-Sotiropoulos.

Heideman has been acknowledged by the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation for her work. She will share this work with NMU students and faculty along with photographs and videos of her trip to Antarctica which, she said, was an experience of a lifetime.

“I saw more deeply into things that, unless you work in science, you don’t see,” Heideman said. “I was seeing the world on a lot of difficult scales and it was like being on another planet with sunlight 24 hours a day because the sun never sets during the season I was there. It was as if you were out in the middle of Lake Superior and it was frozen all the way across. You feel very tiny.”

Along with photos, video and information on Antarctica, Heideman will read poetry that she started during her graduate studies at Northern about the Upper Peninsula mines.

“I started an epic poem about the mines at Northern and it got away from me because good projects get bigger than you,” Heideman said. “It’s taking in the history of under-mining in the iron range. I did a lot of interviews and historical research.”

Heideman was a graduate student teacher while at Northern and is excited to return to the Marquette scenery and new students.

“The Upper Peninsula is a really special place to me,” she said. “I actually kind of think of Marquette as home, just spiritually. It’s the landscape on the edge of the lake.”

Heideman will present Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. in Whitman Commons. Admission is free for Northern students.