poetry

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Alan Robert Proctor has published fiction, essays and poetry, in journals such as New Letters and I-70 Review. He's also a poetry editor for Kansas City Voices.

Proctor says when he reads a poem aloud he always includes the title at the beginning and at the end.

Courtesy of Iris Appelquist

my dearest and most sweet

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Sometimes it just takes one teacher to change everything. For Seann Weir, who studies English and creative writing at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, it was poet Michelle Boisseau and her "high demand of excellence."

"I took a class with Michelle Boisseau," says Weir, "which terrified me and taught me how bad my poems were, which I'm really grateful for." 

Now a senior at UMKC, Weir is due to graduate next semester — and, after that, he plans to explore graduate school. Here, Weir reads a poem titled "In Your City."

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Glenn North describes spoken word poetry as "in your face," using word play and slang. And he's gained a reputation as a performance poet, sharing the stage with poets like Amiri Baraka and Nikki Giovanni. 

The community programs and education director at the Black Archives of Mid-America, North has worked with urban youth to develop their open mic skills, and encouraged them to write a style of poetry that's meant to be performed for an audience. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

 Artist José Faus, a native of Bogota, Colombia, is widely known for his colorful community murals in the Kansas City area, but he's also a poet, writer and playwright, and a founding member of the Latino Writers Collective.

Courtesy Paul Richardson

At the Gem Theater on Saturday night, the Louder Than A Bomb competition brought the top four spoken-word poetry teams from metro high schools up against one another for the last time this school year.

On Monday, after a win from the returning champs at Paseo High School, Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann spoke with Paul Richardson, a soon-to-be-former English teacher from Washington High School who is responsible for bringing Louder Than A Bomb to Kansas City. They talked about the culture of spoken-word competitions and explored why Richardson is leaving his position as a high school educator.

Below is a shortened and edited version of their conversation.

But first, here’s Saturday night’s winner: Alton Herron.

Courtesy Johnson County Library

Johnson County might not have a reputation as a hot spot for cultivating young poets. But that’s exactly what’s been happening for more than a decade now, thanks to some librarians.

Earlier this month, the Johnson County Library published the latest edition of Elementia, a gorgeous glossy magazine with original artwork and poetry by nearly 60 middle and high school students.

courtesy of the author

Andrés Rodríguez grew up in a working class family in Kansas City. For about two decades, his father’s job was at the Swift meatpacking plant – and one visit, as a young child, made a lasting impression. But Rodríguez says in writing poetry, there’s a fine line between memory and imagination.

"The paradox is that the more you imagine, the closer you come to the truth," says Rodríguez. "But I know that the experience that it's trying to get it is the letter and spirit of what happened."

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Poet Marcus Myers says he started to get serious about his writing about a decade ago, when he turned 30 — and set his sights on publishing in literary magazines. Myers and poet Brian Clifton now co-edit Bear Review, an online journal of poetry and micro prose.

Karen Matheis / Larryville Artists

Throughout the 1990s, Mark Hennessy was the frontman for the hard rock Lawrence band PAW. After the band broke up in 2000, Hennessy turned his focus to writing — and continued performing.

"I think performance of poetry offers opportunities to communicate in ways that the page just doesn't," says Hennessy. 

courtesy of the artist

Gabriela Lemmons is a co-founder and former president of the Latino Writers Collective.

We recorded at Blue Monday, the monthly open-mic poetry night at the Uptown Arts Bar, on a night when Lemmons was the featured reader.

She says her poetry is based on her life. "Whatever I'm reading, I actually experienced," she says.

For our series WORD, we selected Lemmons' poem "Stanley Calls Collect."

Her powerful words were enough for the government of Saddam Hussein to declare her an enemy.  For Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail, poetry has charted and changed the course of her life in significant ways. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss the experience of relaying her personal experiences  into verse and hear some of her stark and poignant poetry.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

On this edition of Up to Date, poet Nikki Giovanni talks about Ferguson, Bill Cosby, and reflects on the terrible incident that occurred on her campus at Virginia Tech in 2007. On the subject of Martin Luther King, Jr., she told Steve Kraske, "That voice has carried across the earth." 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Spoken word artist Natasha Ria El-Scari is a self-described feminist, educator, and a mother of two.

"I've always written out of the expression of love," says El-Scari. "Not out of the expression of pain." But she says she was "urged to do so" by the movement Black Poets Speak Out, which started in response to the events in Ferguson, Mo.

Ann Palmer Photography

Poet Brian Daldorph is an assistant professor in the English department at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Since 2001, he’s led a creative writing class for inmates at the Douglas County Jail. This experience has inspired his own work. 

For our new series WORD, Daldorph reads "One Time." 

All of our WORD readings, including bonus tracks by some poets, are archived on SoundCloud. 

Laura Spencer / KCUR

For nearly 20 years, poet Stanley Banks has taught creative writing classes at Avila University in Kansas City, Mo. An assistant professor of English, Banks is also an artist in residence. 

For our new series WORD, Banks reads the poem "Racial Profiling on A Visit to Emporia." 

All of our WORD readings, including bonus tracks by some poets, are archived on SoundCloud.

Gregory Wake / CC - Flickr

"The literary editor has to stand behind the work. It has to mean something to me," says Robert Stewart, editor of New Letters magazine. 

As KCUR's Arts Desk launches WORD, a new series featuring the work of Kansas City poets and writers, we get an insider view into the mind of a literary editor and discuss how to craft writing that gets published.

Guests:

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

We asked for haikus/ to sum up 2014/ Thanks, Kansas City.

That is our thank you poem to everyone who obliged us and answered this week’s Tell KCUR question: What are your most important memories of 2014 in haiku?

The three-line, five-seven-five-syllable formula proved most effective in conveying 2014, with muses ranging from sports, to engagements, to family and public tragedies — plus one of KCUR's transmission hiccups.

Bill Anderson / KCUR

When Up To Date host Steve Kraske was joined in studio by Billy Collins, he wasn't expecting the former U.S. Poet Laureate to have scribed a few lines a la Casey at the Bat as he waited in the green room.

But, impressed by the Royals and their fans, Collins offered this tribute.

Bill Anderson / KCUR

Billy Collins likes to remind people that he once served as Poet Laureate of the United States when he gives talks around the country. It serves as a punch line of sorts for him, but what a line it is. 

Lillian Elaine Wilson

Kansas City can be inspiring in surprising ways. A walk in the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art did the trick for Georgia College’s poet-in-residence, Alice Friman, who reads Thursday evening at Rockhurst University. 

Zephyr Press

Bill Littlefield is host of Only a Game the syndicated program aimed at the serious sports fan and the steadfast sports avoider. (It airs Saturday mornings at 6:00 on KCUR.)

Littlefield has written several books on sports and two novels so his latest work, Take Me Out, a book of sports-related poems, is a bit of a departure. Bill talks with Steve Kraske about what inspired him to poetry, the history behind Only a Game, and his thoughts on this year's World Series.

Xanath Caraza

Kansas City poet Xanath Caraza is used to answering questions from the college students in her writing classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. But last month, she spent an intense six days answering questions from children who want to be poets in El Salvador, which is struggling with gang violence after years of civil war.

Michael McDonald/MKD Photography Ltd

Belfast bard Gearóid Mac Lochlainn is back in Kansas City, Mo., this weekend to perform at the Irish Fest. Known for his bilingual work with poetry and music, his most recent book and CD is called Criss-Cross Mo Chara

In 2008, after then President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, honored him for his contribution to Irish arts, he talked with New Letters on the Air host, Angela Elam, about his first book and CD called Stream of Tongues.

The path to wholeness for those whose lives have been touched by addiction is always different. But for at least one group of Kansas Citians, that road has been filled … with writing. Poetry and prose that chronicle and process and maybe even transform the struggle. 

On Friday's Up to Date,  guest host Brian Ellison talks two women taking part in an annual reading of work stemming from addiction.

Guests:

Grep Hoax

The following content may be offensive to some. Discretion is advised.

In the world of poetry, Patricia Lockwood is the "it girl" right now. The Lawrence, Kan., resident's poem "Rape Joke" went viral last summer, pushing her Twitter following to more than 40,000.

Grep Hoax

The following content may be offensive to some. Discretion is advised. 

"Rape Joke," "Live Nude Dads Read The Sunday Paper," and "The Cum Queens of Hyatt Place" are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to poet Patricia Lockwood's absurdity.

York College ISLGP / Wikimedia Commons

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." For Maya Angelou, these words were a way of life. Her poetry and prose, even her off-the-cuff remarks during interviews, made people feel things deeply.

On Tuesday's Central Standard, local artist Peregrine Honig and writer Natasha Ria El-Scari join host Gina Kaufmann to share how Maya Angelou impacted their lives.

Dwight Carter, 2001

Poet, memoirist and political activist Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86, reportedly after a long illness. 

“Hello, good morning ..." is how Angelou opened the conversation when we talked by phone last week. At home in Winston-Salem, N.C., she joked about the weather in the Midwest.

"Because I think you people change weather in the way that other people change clothes," she said with a laugh.

Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

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