Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It's Eric McHenry! Congratulations to the 5th Kansas Poet Laureate.

Denise Low, Eric McHenry, Wyatt Townley, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg--Poets Laureate of Kansas. Jonathan Holden (not pictured), was the first Kansas Poet Laureate. The installation of McHenry was May 21, 2015 at the Cider Gallery of Lawrence, KS. The Poet Laureate program is sponsored by the Ks. Humanities Council.
Eric McHenry is the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Kansas. I wrote about his poetry on this blog in 2011, Denise Low Postings-Eric McHenry, about my discovery of his work in a Washington D.C. bookstore. His formal verse continues to inspire me, even though it is different from my own aesthetic. His connection to history, place, and zen-direct moments involve readers in each of his poems.

McHenry’s poems connect to the British literary tradition, reframed for a contemporary Mid-Plains context. He told Miranda Ericsson of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, “As to meter and rhyme, I just adore Frost and Auden and Gwendolyn Brooks and I want their chops. I want to make the kind of music they made with language, and I want to make it seem as effortless as they did, and that’s going to take a lot of effort.” He often writes about his family and neighborhood from multiple perspectives at once, as in this poem where glass reflections evoke the repetitions of human generations. The plainspoken Midwestern dialect of American English seems “effortless,” as it conveys images with multiple dimensions.
       Memory of Evan, four or five years old

If it has been an open
window you would’ve kept
walking, but because
it was sun-puzzled glass
you saw me through, you stopped
halfway across the yard,
and squinted through the glare,
and waved, and seemed to wait
for something else to happen,

and finally it became
apparent that it had
already, and that you
were being kept from what
you’d been about to do
by nothing, and you gave
me one more gentle wave—
I’m here, you’re there—
and left me in my frame.

 (© Eric McHenry  “Apparent” was first published in Seattle Review. Used with permission.)
Eric McHenry attended Beloit College and earned his MA in creative writing at Boston University. His two books of poetry are Potscrubber Lullabies (Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Waywiser Press, 2006) and Mommy Daddy Evan Sage (The Waywiser Press, 2011). McHenry's poems have been featured in The Harvard Review, Seattle Review, The New Republic, Agni, Orion, and Slate. Editors of Poetry Northwest named McHenry winner of the annual Theodore Roethke Prize for best poems in the 2010 magazine. His criticism appears in The New York Times Book Review, Salon, and Poetry Daily. He is a winner of the Academy of American Poets Prize. He currently lives in Lawrence and teaches creative writing at Washburn University of Topeka. He is a fifth-generation Topekan and graduate of Topeka High School.

Kansas Humanities Council Poet Laureate Program http://kansashumanities.org/programs/poet-laureate-of-kansas-2/ 
Kansas Poets, http://www.kansaspoets.com/ks_poets/mchenry_eric.htm
Slate poems, essays, and reviews: http://www.slate.com/search.html?id=115900#search=%22Eric%20McHenry%22