ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Poets and writers looking to reach more people with their work could soon have just that opportunity.
Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced applications are open for the next Poet Laureate of Kansas. The Poet Laureate of Kansas is an honorary position designed to promote the reading and writing of poetry throughout the state and is sponsored through the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (KCAIC). The current Kansas Poet Laureate is Huascar Medina, a poet, writer, and performer based in Topeka.
“By preserving the legacy of the generations that came before us, inspiring artists of the future, and driving community and economic development, the Kansas Poet Laureate program is a shining example of the value of supporting local and statewide arts,” Gov. Kelly noted in the State of Kansas release. “I encourage poets across the state to apply to be the eighth Poet Laureate of Kansas. The Kansas Poet Laureate will serve a term of four years beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and will contribute to the growth and awareness of poetry by presenting their own work and the work of others at public events, readings, workshops, and lectures throughout the state.”
“The arts help bring our communities together with stories and experiences that highlight our uniqueness, talents and gifts,” Lieutenant Governor David Toland noted in the State of Kansas release. “It has been great to see the return of the Poet Laureate program through the talents of current Poet Laureate Huascar Medina and I’m excited to see this program continue to grow.”
Medina has been busy presenting his program, May Our Voices Ring True, across the state since the program returned to KCAIC in 2021, the State of Kansas release noted. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in Northeast Kansas. In the fall of 2021, Medina was confirmed as a member of the National Council on the Arts.
"It has been an honor to serve as the seventh Poet Laureate of Kansas,” Medina noted in the State of Kansas release. “With each new laureate, the Poet Laureate of Kansas program grows in purpose, status and function. We have a strong legacy of words in Kansas, and that tradition will continue with the eighth Poet Laureate. To the next Kansas Poet Laureate, I say: May you find the words and may your words find others."
Beyond sharing poetry across the state, the Poet Laureate participates in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition for high school students and assists with strengthening and expanding the literary arts ecosystem in Kansas, according to the State of Kansas release. Using the Poet Laureate programming is free of charge to all Kansas non-profit organizations. To be considered, applicants must submit a complete application by Tuesday, Sept. 6. The Poet Laureate of Kansas Selection Committee will review all submitted applications and select semi-finalists that will be required to give a public presentation. The new Poet Laureate of Kansas will be announced in October.
To learn more about the Poet Laureate Program and to access the application, visit the Poet Laureate page at the Kansas Department of Commerce Web site.