I return to the world I knew before this event to find it slightly different. For one thing, the house is cleaner due to the mad rush of cleaning all last week so that we wouldn’t cringe at the spider webs on the ceiling while showing some poets laureate where they would be sleeping. For another, the sun is out, snow and rain are gone, and so are the poets laureate: the last having just left as the 19 of them sprinkle near and far in all directions. Some are home already, and some — like Peggy Shumaker and her wonderful husband, Joe, who will travel for two days to Alaska or like Lisa Starr, who may be on the long ferry from Rhode Island to her inn on Block Island — are still in process.
As for me, I alternate between horizontal and semi-horizontal (sitting in bed, typing or checking email, or simply dozing into surreal and buzzing snippets of dream). Graham Nash sings “I Am A Simple Man” on itunes, and I fee like a very simple woman listening to it. The squirrel waits on the branch to leap onto the bird feeder. The cat sleeps on a pile of blankets one of the poets used. The Christmas lights around the bedroom window droop across thumbtacks.
I’m not exactly sure what happened during these days, but I do know I hugged many people, swam with others in tandem through conversations about vocation and passion, healing and imagery, the hunger to find the right words, the necessity of listening to other, and where to find Thai food on Mass. Street. I watched audiences leaning forward, intent and awake. I heard all weather variations of poetry: sonnets about liberal arts, free verse on the damage fathers can do, elaborations on the danger of the hot dog man, and wry deconstructions of our need to be adored.
I also found friends for life: poets and poets laureate I just met, and yet they were instantly big brothers or long-lost cousins sharing a bag of ginger snaps with me late at night in the kitchen or duck spring rolls at a candlelit dinner yesterday. There will be radio broadcasts of portions of the event on Kansas and Kansas City Public Radio stations, and a video or two soon, but for now, this is what I know.
I also know whatever happened was, for me at least, extraordinary: made of running back and forth on my back deck near midnight, throwing snowballs and shovels of snow at each other; taking pictures of one another taking picture of one another; immersing myself in conversation with four women in the corner of Free State Brewery as we all ate big steak together; and squeezing into a car with poets laureate of five states to maneuver the weather of this state.
Thank you to everyone who came, listened, read, stayed, drove, fed, housed, asked questions of and provided answers for this gathering flock of blackbirds this weekend and the big sky we poured ourselves through on the way to each other.
We are heartened with the enthusiastic reception for Poet Laureati: A National Convergence of Poets Laureate March 13-14, and already, registrations have exceeded our expectations. If you plan to come, we encourage you to register ahead of time for these two reasons:
- It’s a better deal! Rates will be higher at the door.
- Your registration ahead of time helps us do a better job planning the final details of the events.
An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate is at the press and on its way, just in time for the March 13-14 Poet Laureati event. We are greatly indebted to our stupendous publisher, Steve Semken, of Ice Cube Books, for creating such a beautiful book. We are also very moved to have Jerry Sipe’s beautiful cover photo,”Mount Baker, Moon, Jupiter, and Mercury at Sunrise, Autumnal Equinox, 2003.” Mount Baker, located in Cascade range of Washington State, is seen here from Bazan Bay in Vancouver Island, BC.
Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer-prize winner for her collection, Up Country, writes, “This vigorous anthology deserves a place in every library.” Ted Kooser, former U.S. poet laureate, write, “Each poet adds a unique style to the anthology and a unique slant on what it means to write from ‘this land made for you and me.’ This book is made for every American to roam and ramble within. Open these pages and enjoy the journey.”
An Endless Skyway also shows readers the vital work of our nation’s poets laureate in maintaining and growing the light of literature. Kevin Prufer, editor-at-large of Pleiades and a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas, writes, “Our state poets laureate programs are central to the health of our literature, bringing a bounty of talented writers to good readers across the nation….This anthology brings together an astonishing array of poets, each of them listening closely to the music of our language and writing with clarity, passion and intelligence.”
Come visit us on facebook and like our book there (go to http://ow.ly/3JyH5 or just look for An Endless Skyway).
We are very happy to welcome Karla Morton, Texas’s new poet laureate, who will also be joining us. Please join her and the 19 other poets laureate attending on March 13-14 in beautiful Lawrence, Kansas, where spring will be springing and poets will be reading like nobody’s business. Early bird registration expires after Jan. 15, so register today! And welcome, Karla!
Karla K. Morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, has been described as “one of the more adventurous voices in American poetry” and has been featured on Good Morning Texas, NPR, ABC News, CBS News and in countless newspapers, blogs and magazines.
As the first female Texas Poet Laureate in nearly 20 years, Morton created the Little Town, Texas Tour. As part of the tour, she has traveled across the state, sharing her poetry and love for the arts with high schools, universities, arts organizations, bookstores, conference attendees and more.
Initially taking the arts world by storm with her book/CD Wee Cowrin’ Timorous Beastie (a North Texas Book Festival Awards finalist created in collaboration with award-winning composer Howard Baer), Morton’s critically-acclaimed poetry collections now include:
Turns out we have another poet laureate joining us for Poet Laureati March 13-14 in Lawrence, Kansas. Bruce Dethlefsen has just been appointed as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2011 and 2012. He has published two poetry chapbooks, A Decent Reed and Something Near the Dance Floor. Breather is his latest full-length poetry book. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2003 and 2009. Two of his poems were featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac on public radio and several poems on Your Daily Poem website. He wrote and performed original music with Bill Orth as Obvious Dog on Cathryn Cofell’s CD, Lip. Bruce, a retired educator and public library director, lives in Westfield, Wisconsin.
Congratulations, Bruce! We look forward to seeing Bruce in March, not so far from where he grew up in Kansas City. Hope to see you there too!
An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate of America is in production and has a cover photo, taken by Jerry Sipe, a Kansas photographer, in Oregon. Enjoy the beauty and depth of this endless sky! This anthology, edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Marilyn L. Taylor with editorial assistance from Denise Low and Walter Bargen is being published by Ice Cube Books, run by the wonderful and supportive Steve Semken. The release date is March, 2011.
For a complete list of the over 30 poets laureate in the book, please see this link.
Register today for the many events associated with Poet Laureati, including two all-star readings, a conference, and much more, drawing on the poetic gifts of 18 state poets laureate and Ted Kooser, former U.S. poet laureate. It all happens in Lawrence, Kansas March 13-14, 2011.