In a more personal and wildly enthusiastic vein, I take note today of this week's appointment of Denise Low as the new poet laureate of Kansas.
This is personal because Denise is a member of my writing group and a friend. More than that, though, Denise is a wonderful poet.
She will do a great job in her new post. Kudos to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Kansas Arts Commission for recognizing her talent. As poet laureate, Denise's job will be to develop a greater appreciation for the writing and reading of poetry in the state. Denise's term runs from July 1,2007, to June 30, 2009.
"I want to celebrate the many readers and poets across the state who sustain a life of the mind as well as deep love for the land," she said.Denise is the interim dean of the College of Humanities and Arts at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence. She has been published numerous times and has been honored by, among many others, the Academy of American Poets, the Newberry Library, the Landon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
"During these next several years, I hope to share my own excitement about poetry with our libraries, colleges, public schools, arts centers and alliances and reading groups."
Publisher Bob Woodley says in an essay about Denise that "she gives us Kansas memories." However, you can't know any poet without reading her work. This poem can be found on the Kansas Poets web site.
Mornings I Never Leave You
Mornings a misted road opens
its slow arc through floodplain.
The Wakarusa River tosses
somewhere south in the midst
of willows and osage orange.
To the east, Blue Mound rests
from its slow erosion as air
filters over it. The sun illumines
each hill, each piece of stone.
These mornings I rise from bed
and leave the solid shape of your back.
I leave the warm skin you fold
over me against cold
and the blotting of night.
Sun consumes the tail-end
of darkness. I leave your eyes
and drive into small changes--
grackles ornamenting a tree,
grass winnowing the wind.
White dew sifts back into sky.
Traced by distant branches
a small river I never see,
loops through wet silt,
holding Earth in place.
Originally published in Helicon 9 Anthology