A New Poet Laureate For Kansas | KCUR

A New Poet Laureate For Kansas

May 1, 2013

Wyatt Townley, a fourth-generation Kansan, has been named the new Poet Laureate of Kansas for 2013-2015.

A resident of Leawood, Kan., Townley is the author of three collections of poetry, including, most recently, "The Afterlives of Trees."  This collection was selected as a Kansas Notable Book and won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. Townley's work has also been featured in journals such as New Letters, North American Review, and Paris Review.

Townley is a founding board member of The Writers Place in Kansas City, Mo. She's also worked as a teaching artist with Young Audiences and Writers in the Schools program, and appeared at literary festivals and writers' conferences in the Midwest and Northeast.

A former dancer, Townley has taught yoga for more than three decades and founded a therapeutic system called Yoganetics®.

The Poet Laureate of Kansas position was established in 2004 by the now-defunct Kansas Arts Commission. It's now a program of the Kansas Humanities Council. Former Poets Laureate include Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (2009-2013), Denise Low (2007-2009), and Jonathan Holden (2005-2007).

"Wyatt (Townley)'s work, along with her knowledge of the craft and history of poetry, will guide Kansans as they make the connection between poetry and civic life," said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Humanities Council, in a statement.


by Wyatt Townley

It's only the body
It's only a hip joint
It's just a bulging disc
It's only weather
It's only your heart
It's a shoulder who needs it
This happens all the time
It's very common
It's unusual
For people your age
For people your age
You're in great shape
Remarkable shape
It's nothing you did
The main thing is
It's temporary
It's only a doll
In a house that's burning

"Fire" by Wyatt Townley, from The Afterlives of Trees. © Woodley Press, 2011.