We’ll find out very soon because starting this weekend, the poets are coming: 20 poets laureate from Alabama to Alaska, and South Carolina to Colorado. As anyone who knows me surely knows by now, for better or worse, I’m the main organizer of Poet Laureati: A National Convergence of Poets Laureate, happening in my hometown of Lawrence, KS. Sun-Mon., March 13-14. For about a year, I’ve been churning out emails, fielding calls, building webpages and badgering all of my facebook friends about this event, all in an effort to make something out of nothing.
By nothing, I simply mean “no money,” and by something, I mean an event that has some kind of meaning for those of us reading, speaking, listening or hanging out within the swirl of readings, workshops, receptions and visits. We tried to find funding, but everywhere we looked, the cupboards were bare. So what was to be had to spun out of air, and spun out of air it was. Thanks to lots of local sponsors who donated making and distributing posters, featuring us on their websites, airing us on the radio (Thanks, K
PR!), sending us information to their members and customers, we succeeded thus far financially — meaning we raised enough $ to give the poets laureate coming at least a very small stipend to cover part of their travel expenses — and it looks like we’ll succeed when it comes to imagination, inspiration and invention.
We also ended up editing and having published (Thanks, Ice Cube Books!), an anthology — An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate of America, which will be launched at this event.
Now that it’s all upon me, it’s hard to believe that about a year ago, some of us Midwest poets laureate sat at a table at Tellers, conjuring up an event and a book, but also reminding ourselves that it might be too much to do both or either. Yet here it is: poetry on the hoof and wing, aiming itself toward Lawrence, and ready to land soon.