By JORDAN BRADLEY
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan could be the sixth state to adopt an official poem.
Written by Millie “the Chiseler” Miller, “Hand of Michigan” is short and sweet, referencing much of Michigan’s majestic Mother Nature.
“God knitted a mitten of wood, rock and lime,
Made a foundation to last through all time.
He planted his palm with Hemlock and pine,
Then blessed it with rain and sunshine.
In all the world there’s no other land
That God himself patterned from his own hand!
Miller, who died in 1998, was a bit of a Renaissance woman. A poet and woodcarver known as “the Chiseler,” she inspired the Ogemaw County flag with her carving of Chief Ogemaw.
Three lawmakers are sponsoring the bill to designate “Hand of Michigan” as the official poem: Reps. Bruce Rendon, R-Lake City, Kenneth Kurtz, R-Coldwater, and Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac.
Rendon said that Miller, who was from West Branch, was proud of her home state and a big part of her community.
“Despite problems we all have, this is one of the good things about my job,” Rendon said. “This is a way to recognize the people in Michigan and what we have in them.”
To Rendon, the poem perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere of Michigan, what it has to offer, “what we’re about and what we’re made of.”
Austin Hummell, a professor of English at Northern Michigan University, teaches poetry and poetry writing classes.
Though Hummell said he is happy the proposal is bringing attention to poetry and literature, “A Primer” by Bob Hicok, who was born in Grand Ledge and formerly taught at Western Michigan University, would be a more interesting pick.
Hicok’s poem begins:
“I remember Michigan fondly as the place I go
to be in Michigan. The right hand of America
waving from maps or the left
pressing into clay a mold to take home
from kindergarten to Mother. I lived in Michigan
forty-three years. The state bird
is a chained factory gate. The state flower
is Lake Superior, which sounds egotistical
though it is merely cold and deep as truth.”
If the bill passes, Michigan would join Indiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Tennessee, the other states sensitive enough to designate an official poem.
It was referred to the Government Operations Committee.
House Bill 5821 (2014)
Bob Hicok “A Primer”
By JORDAN BRADLEY