WICHITA, Kan. - Beginning the first week in November, Kansas poets and those with ties to Kansas will begin a twenty-city reading tour to commemorate the publication of Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, published by Woodley Press.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Poet Laureate of Kansas, organized the book publication and the reading tour, and will attend several readings. This project, which celebrates the Kansas Sesquicentennial, started in April, National Poetry Month, with poets submitting work that related to Kansas.
Information about the twenty-city reading tour is available on the poet laureate web site. Two reading events, one at Eighth Day Books and one at Watermark Bookstore and Café, will kick off the tour in Wichita. A reading in Manhattan is set for Nov. 4, and one in Lawrence will take place on Nov. 6.
Poets reading at Eighth Day Books include Mirriam-Goldberg, Roy J. Beckemeyer, Bill Sheldon, Diane Wahto, Iris Wilkinson, and Pam McMaster Yenser. This reading will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3. Eighth Day Books is located at 2838 E. Douglas, Wichita, Kansas.
Poets reading at Watermark Books and Café include Elizabeth Black, Roy J. Beckemeyer, Ronda Miller, Rick Nichols, Bill Sheldon, Olive Sullivan, Diane Wahto, and Pam McMaster Yenser. This reading will take place at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 5. Watermark Books and Café is located at 4701 E. Douglas, Wichita, Kansas.
Eighth Day Books and Watermark Books and Café will have books available at the events for purchasing and poet signing.
All the readings are free and open to the public.
Three people have filled the Kansas Poet Laureate position, starting with Prof. Jonathon Holden in 2005. Prof. Denise Low was appointed to the position in 2007, and Mirriam-Goldberg was appointed in 2009 and will serve until 2012.
Because the poet laureate position was supported by the now defunded Kansas Arts Commission, it became unclear whether the Poet Laureate program would survive after Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed funding for the KAC. Kansas Citizens for the Arts, a grass-roots arts group that was formed after the KAC lost funding, has taken over responsibility for the Poet Laureate position.
According to the KCA, "In the summer of 2011, Kansas Citizens for the Arts came forth to house the poet laureate program until state arts funding and a state arts agency are restored. This allows Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg to finish out her three-year term as the third poet laureate of Kansas and provides solid ground upon which to conduct a transparent process to choose a fourth state poet laureate, to begin the position on July 1, 2012."
In the meantime, Mirriam-Goldberg is campaigning to raise funds to keep the Poet Laureate of Kansas position intact.
Throughout history and across cultures, people have honored the poets in their midst. Even today when we live in a time that poetry may not be high on everybody's list of priorities, without poetry, the world is a harder place. Poetry can both soothe and inspire. Check out the reading dates and places and spend an hour so being uplifted, entertained, and informed about the beauties and rarities of Kansas.