Twenty poets laureate from throughout the country came to Lawrence March 13-14, 2011 for “Poet Laureati: A National Convergence of Poets Laureate” for two days of readings, museum tours receptions, a silent auction to have dinner with a poet laureate, and panels on poetry as it relates to the earth, healing, spirituality, the creative process, publishing, and making a living. The gathering also celebrated the launch of An Endless Sky: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate, an anthology of poetry from close to 40 poets laureate, which was edited by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Marilyn L. Taylor, Walter Bargen and Denise Low and published by Ice Cube Books.
The gathering was organized over the last year by our own poet laureate, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, with assistance from Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate Emeritus; Mary Swander, Poet Laureate of Iowa; and Walter Bargen, Missouri Poet Laureate Emeritus. Held at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and at the Lawrence Arts Center, the convergence attracted more than 130 participants, who found all the events, and the casual time to talk with poets laureate, to be inspiring and even, in some cases, life changing. One participant said, “Never have I felt so affirmed as a writer than at this gathering.” The poets also remarked on how welcoming they found Kansans to be, and how marvelous it was to gather in this way.
Participating poets laureate included Ted Kooser, former U.S. Poet Laureate, along
with many state poets laureate: David Romtvedt (Wyoming), Karla K. Morton (Texas), Bruce Dethlefsen (Wisconsin), Marjory Wentworth (South Carolina), Mary Swander (Iowa), Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg (KS), Jonathan Holden (KS, emeritus), Sue Brannan Walker (Alabama), Peggy Shumaker (Arkansas), Walter Butts (New Hampshire), Mary Crow (Colorado), David Allan Evans (South Dakota), Norbert Krapf (Indiana, emeritus), Lisa Starr (Rhode Island), Marilyn L. Taylor (Wisconsin, emeritus), Water Bargen (Missouri, emeritus), Denise Low (Kansas, emeritus), Joyce Brinkman (Indiana, emeritus), and Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda (Virginia, emeritus).
The event was co-sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, Kansas Arts Commission, Lawrence Arts Center, Free State Brewery, Community Mercantile, Ice Cube Books, Raven Bookstore, Kansas Area Watershed Council, Lawrence Public Library, and Kansas Public Radio.
Please visit unitedpoetslaureate.wordpress.com for links to upcoming shows on this event to be featured on Kansas Public Radio (KPR) and Kansas City Public Radio (KCUR) in upcoming months.