One Person’s Trash is Julie Gard’s Poem

By: ANNA FRIEDRICHSEN, Lake Voice Julie Gard Author Photo Summer 2015 (2)

Rummaging through local thrift stores and garage sales, Julie Gard found the inspiration for her book of prose poems, "Home Studies".

41-year-old Gard’s "Home Studies" was published this fall and came from “personal experiences, family dynamics,” and junk.  Yes, junk.

Gard prefers to call the junk “found objects and artwork”.  These things can be found at quaint thrift shops or on the ground at a local park.  

Meaningless and worthless to most, these objects intrigue Gard and are focal points in her writing.

“I think of [prose poetry] as poetry without the line breaks,” Gard said.

Imagery, rhythm and other poetic qualities can be showcased in this style of writing, creating unique fiction and nonfiction pieces.

"Home Studies" is separated into three sections, one of which is heavily influenced by objects found at a thrift store in a small town, where Gard’s previous home was set ablaze by a disapproving neighbor.  

“I focused on why this man did it and how the town responded.  I worked through the emotions of the experience,” Gard said.

This fiasco of the fire is the middle section of the book.  Adopting her daughter from Russia is the first section, a remarkable depiction of Gard and her partner expanding their family.  Moving to Duluth is the third and last section, which showcases her life as a teacher, mother, and a partner in a committed relationship.

Gard uses objects to draw experiences and emotion of past experiences, unrelated to the initial event.

As far as a favorite object Gard has found and written about, she says it is hard to choose, but one comes to mind.

“I have a statue of a woman.  I’m not sure where it’s from.  It’s a tall figure, probably a souvenir from a trip to Africa,” Gard said.

Why this object stands out from the rest is uncertain, but Gard reflects on it, saying, “I really like how that poem turned out”.  

To find out more about Julie Gard and her work, check out her website

"Home Studies" is available for purchase here.


I conducted a survey asking the Duluth community about objects they have found.  Here are some of the answers I received:

“A trophy for 3rd place in accordion at Park Point yard sale”.

“Petrified dinosaur poo in Arizona”.

“I found a broken off piece from a cargo ship on Lake Superior.  It has a rubber top and looks like a door knob.  It was used for the heating system to prevent water from entering”.

What is the most interesting (or weird) object you have found? Please share your response in the comment section.

This article is the third in a series about writers in Duluth.  The first article can be found here.  If you are a writer or have someone in mind to be featured in an upcoming article, contact Anna Friedrichsen at

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