Kathleen M. Heideman


Brief Bio

Kathleen M. Heideman is a writer, artist and environmentalist working in Michigan’s wild Upper Peninsula. She has completed over a dozen artist-in-residence programs, working with watersheds, forests, private foundations, the National Park Service — at Isle Royale, Apostle Islands, Badlands, Sleeping Bear Dunes and elsewhere — and as a Fellow with the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.

Heideman is the author of Explaining Pictures To A Dead Hare (Traffic Street Press), and She Used to Have Some Cows (La Vacas Press). Her poems appear widely in literary journals and anthologies, and have been thrice-nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is drawn to wild and threatened places; her writing is inspired by the particulars of swamps, wolves, changes brought by nickel mining on the Yellow Dog Plains, imaginary islands in Lake Superior, sandhill cranes, beetles, stream-sampling, collapsing mining towns, crooked pines, carnivorous plants, and more.

Her new book of poetry, Psalms of the Early Anthropocene, is forthcoming from Winter Cabin Books in 2017. A curious woman.

Additional Background

Kathleen M. Heideman has been named a finalist for Poet Laureate of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In 2017, a new Poet Laureate of the U.P. will be named for a two year term.” The nominees must have a strong connection to the Upper Peninsula; the Poet Laureate works to “promote an appreciation of poetry and the region during their tenure.”Public voting takes place in December, and is coordinated by the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters.

Heideman holds degrees from Minneapolis College of Art and Design (BFA) and Northern Michigan University (MA).In 2016, her work was named a quarter-finalist for Ruminate Magazine’s Janet McCabe Poetry Prize, a semi-finalist for the Diagram Chapbook Contest, and runner-up for the Dead Bison Editors’ Prize. Recent poems appear in such literary journals as Arcadia, The Maynard, Burningword, Toronto-based Untethered, Emerge, and elsewhere. Her work will appear in forthcoming anthologies from Caffeinated Press (poems of Isle Royale) and Michigan State University Press. She resides in Marquette with her husband Daniel Rydholm, dividing her time between Lake Superior and remote locations on the Yellow Dog Plains.


As a 2005 Fellow of the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists & Writers Program, Heideman observed scientists conducting research at remote field camps on Antarctica – from biologists diving beneath sea-ice to gather specimens in the Ross Sea, to astrophysicists at the South Pole constructing neutrino detectors. She has completed a dozen prestigious artist-in-residence programs, working with watersheds, forests, private foundations, and the National Park Service to interpret wild places through poems and paintings:

  • Necedah National Wildlife Refuge – Artist in Residence, 2010
  • Aspen Guard Station, San Juan Public Lands – Artist in Residence, 2010

  • Andrews Experimental Forest, Willamette National Forest – Writer in Residence, 2010

  • Badlands National Park – Artist in Residence, 2010

  • Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Artist in Residence, 2008

  • Isle Royale National Park – Artist in Residence, 2008

  • St. Croix Watershed Research Station (Science Museum of MN) – Artist in Residence at Pine Needles, 2008
  • Voyageurs National Park – Artist in Residence, 2003

  • Devils Tower National Monument – Bearlodge Writer’s Residency, 2002

  • Eastern Frontier Society, Norton Island, Maine – Artist in Residence, 2001

  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Sand Island Artist in Residence, 2000

  • Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies – Artist in Residence, 2000


Heideman received the City of Marquette Arts & Culture Center’s Outstanding Writer Award in 2015. She won the U.P. Nature Writing Contest in 2014, and was named a finalist for U.P. Poet Laureate in 2013. In 2011, she was named a fellow of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and awarded a three-month artist residency in Taos. In 1999, she received Northern Michigan University’s “Outstanding Young Alumni” award. Her writing has received recognition and awards from the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, the Loft Center for Writers, Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Minnesota State Arts Board.


Heideman is the author of Explaining Pictures To A Dead Hare (Traffic Street Press), She Used to Have Some Cows (La Vacas Press), and the artist book Time Upon Once (Minnesota Center for Book Arts) in collaboration with poet Phebe Hanson and artist Rebecca Alm. Psalms of the Early Anthropocene is forthcoming from Winter Cabin Books in 2017.

Her poetry appears in such journals as Artifice, Conduit, Confluence, Cream City Review, decomP, Exquisite Corpse, Folio, Fox Cry, Fringe, Iodine, Passages North, Seems, South Dakota Review, Steam Ticket, Sundog: Southeast Review, Tonopah, Water-Stone, Wicked Alice and Willow Springs. Her work is included in numerous anthologies, including the 2016 Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press), Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory (Scriblerus Press), and Illness & Grace, Terror & Transformation (Wising Up Press).


Heideman has participated in poetry readings at Petoskey’s Carnegie Library, Bayliss Public Library, Peter White Public Library, Walker Art Center, Hennepin Center for the Arts, Borders Books, Cedar Tree Institute, coffee shops around the Midwest, and at other sites ranging from park shelters and visitor centers to Antarctica.

She has delivered keynotes and multimedia presentations at Finlandia University, Northern Michigan University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Isle Royale’s Rock Harbor Visitor Center, Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitor Center, the Cortez Cultural Center in Colorado, St. Croix Watershed Research Station in Minnesota, Badlands Visitor Center, Kadoka Public Schools in South Dakota, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, and at international conferences in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, Baltimore, Havana (Cuba) and elsewhere – addressing such diverse topics as poetry, scientific and creative inquiry, instructional technology and fine arts studio critiques, and her experiences working in the National Parks. In 2015, Heideman was a featured speaker at the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s “Celebrate the U.P.!” event.


Kathleen’s paintings have been exhibited locally at Sweet Water Café, Babycakes, Marquette Baking Company, Ore Dock Brewing Company, and included in Lake Superior Art Association members’ shows at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. Other exhibits include National Park Artists-in-Residence “Summer Arts: Inspired by the National Parks,” the National Park’s online exhibition, “Through Your Eyes,” and “The Art of Stewardship of the Antarctic” presented at a 2014 gathering of the Antarctican Society. Her work was included in the exhibit “Collected Works from the NSF’s Antarctic Artists & Writers Program” (Maryland Science Center, 32nd Antarctic Treaty Conference, 2009). Watercolors from her artist residency at Badlands National Park were featured on the National Parks Traveler website.


Since 2014, Heideman served as president of Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), a grassroots environmental organization defending clean water and wild places from the dangers of sulfide mining. Under her leadership, SWUP recently merged with the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC). She participates in the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s U.P. Environmental Stakeholders Group. In 2016, she joined UPEC’s board of directors, and continues her work with the Mining Action Group.



kathleenheideman_photobychristinesaariCabin on the Yellowdog Plains

Author portrait: photograph by Christine Saari.


I am reporting from the fraying “edge of the wild” as our planet spins into the Anthropocene. I am bearing witness — even as global mining companies descend on the Lake Superior Basin in a frantic, unsustainable search for billion-dollar sulfide orebodies (poly-metallic deposits including nickel, copper, zinc, gold, silver, platinum group elements, etc) — even as our cultural ideas of “Nature” and “Wilderness” are undermined — even as we are told what to desire — even as our new mining boom is threatening wild, wet and remote places, and exacerbating climate-driven changes.

The poems in my new collection – Psalms of the Early Anthropocene – speak of sacred zones and sacrifice zones, torn between howling grief and psalmic praise.

“It’s death by a thousand culverts.”  – Josh Royte

Let us agree this river is outraged
to find itself contained by a culvert — contained!
O the idea of containing a river is laughable
and many say water will have the last laugh,
but for now, here, it sulks;
inundated with silt and sounds of all-night drilling,
drills penetrating even the silent glades, secret springs —
they are drilling in all directions now,
long snouts of drill tips pressing in and under,
deep booms and distant dynamiting like thunder,
drill heads dripping, lubricated with black oily fluid
foul as spoor from the anus of a skunk,
black X’s smeared to mark this terrain on someone’s map:
exploration, threatened water, tannin-stained pools,
tamaracks standing to their knees in peat.

The butterflies are small and black-veined.
The dragonflies are black, and feed on shadows
which flow from the dark mouths of culverts.
Something moving in my deepest, blackest heart
wants to grab that culvert by its metal throat
and tear it out.


From Psalms of the Early Anthropocene by Kathleen M. Heideman (Marquette, MI: Winter Cabin Books, 2017).