We Sit Book Launch

Watermark Art Center is pleased to host the launch of We Sit, a collaborative art and poetry book by Marley Kaul and Taiju Geri Wilimek. The launch will be held on Saturday, September 29 at 5:30 p.m.

We Sit invites readers to slow down and join an artist and a poet as they contemplate mortality through stunning art and Zen-inspired poetry. Painter Marley Kaul offers 20 images of egg tempera paintings made during a year-long period of meditative reflection after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in 2016. Taiju Geri Wilimek, living in the aftermath of a 1998 cancer diagnosis, offers poetry that could only have been written after a long period of healing, enabled by the study and practice of mindfulness meditation and the teachings of zen. Kaul and Wilimek, friends for decades, share a pull toward the investigation of life and death through meditation and art.

The launch will include a reading and presentation about the artistic process that went into developing this project, with a Q&A to follow. Books will be available for purchase at the event.

Geri Wilimek

Marley Kaul

Praise for We Sit

 We Sit shares a beautiful journey into the great matter of live and death. It brings a bright light to bear on the inner experience of anyone considering these matters. I join Marley and Geri in this inquiry with a sincere sense of depth and warmth.”—Shoken Winecoff, Abbot Ryumonji Zen Monastery

“I am blown away by this book, its beauty and the peace I feel looking at it.”—Susan Gilmore, Susan Gilmore Photography

 “What a beautiful book! Every spread, left and right, offers its own meditation. Even the poems’ shapes tell stories. It’s only right to slow down and pay attention. I savored each painting and poem multiple times.”—Shannon Pennefeather Gardner, Editor 

 “Exquisite healing.”—Martin DeWitt, artist; formerly the Director and Curator of the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth; and the Founding Director and Curator of the Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University.

Poetry from the Prairie

September 11, 2018
Reading: 6 p.m.
Craft Lecture: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Hear two Kansas writers read their original poetry on September 11 at 6 p.m. HC Palmer and Al Ortolani will use haiku, free verse and other forms of poetry to  share about a broad range of experiences, including environmental inspiration, hospice and the Vietnam war. This reading is free and open to the public.

In addition, Palmer and Ortolani will lead a craft lecture titled “Poets in Conversation” from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on September 11. Cost for this lecture is $20 for Watermark members and $25 for nonmembers. Register by September 9, 2018.


H.C. Palmer’s work has appeared in New Letters, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, War Literature and the Arts, Narrative Magazine, The New Mexico Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Flint Hills Review, Gray’s Sporting Journal among other journals and anthologies. His first book of poems, Feet of the Messenger, explores Palmer’s experiences as a medical doctor, especially as an army surgeon in the Vietnam War. Feet of the Messenger was a finalist for the 2017 Balcones Poetry Prize and was chosen as a 2018 Kansas Notable Book. Palmer works with a veterans writing program in partnership with the Kansas City Public Libraries, The Writers Place and the Moral Injury Association of America.


Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, was recently released from New York Quarterly Books. A previous collection, Ghost Sign, co-authored with J.T. Knoll, Adam Jameson, and Melissa Fite Johnson, was selected as a Kansas Notable Book for 2017. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas, and directs a memoir writing project for Vietnam veterans across Kansas in association with the Library of Congress and Humanities Kansas.


This event is hosted by the Spoken Word Committee of Watermark Art Center and is sponsored, in part, by a generous donation from Bemidji Woolen Mills. Both the reading and craft lecture will be held at Watermark, located at 505 Bemidji Ave N.


Wendell Affield’s Pawns to be released at Watermark Art Center

pawns_cover_final-jpeg.jpgWatermark Art Center will host the release of Pawns, the second installation in the “Chickenhouse Chronicles Series,” written by Bemidji author Wendell Affield on Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m.

The second book in this autobiographical series conjures up memories as the author pours over musty letters, documents and seventy-year photographic negatives. Some photographs evoke fading memories of his mother, a beautiful young New Yorker and accomplished Juilliard-trained pianist; others evoke images of puppies tied to a corncrib, a harrowing escape to a secluded mountain lake in the Cascade Mountains, and his brother Randy – now forty years dead.

Memory bits expand into images of fear and anger: a water trough Affield angrily destroyed with an ax; long distant road trips with his siblings and mother in attempts to escape her abusive husband; his mother’s fear of forgetting her children scattered across the country in foster homes after she was committed to a mental institution.

During the book release, hear Affield read from this dramatic recounting as well as share his process for writing about family history. Q&A to follow.

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Wendell Affield attended Bemidji State University to learn the writing craft. His Vietnam “memory stories” evolved into a memoir, Muddy Jungle Rivers. The memoir has opened surprising new paths. Today he speaks about PTSD and leads writing groups for veterans. In 2017, he was awarded the Veteran’s Voices Legacy award by the Minnesota Humanities Center. He retired from the food industry in 2001.