Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Letters on the Air Denise Low Interview Available to Aug. 8

Angela Elam of New Letters on the Air did this interview a few weeks ago, broadcast July 13. If you download this, you have a chance to win a free copy of my book Words of a Prairie Alchemist.

You may download the radio program free of charge until Aug. 8. After that, it is available for purchase on CD or cassette. My thanks to Angela and Dennis Cosgrove and Bob Stewart and everyone at New Letters!

Podcast Denise Low interview site:
New Letters On the Air podcast subscription site:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lawrence Journal World: An Online Chat

This July 5, 2007, chat took place 1:30-2 pm. This is available online through the Lawrence J-W site:

Lawrence writer Denise Low assumes her post as Kansas Poet Laureate on July 1. The interim dean of the College of Humanities and Arts at Haskell Indian Nations University will take questions about her new role: supporting other Kansas writers and developing an appreciation for the writing and reading of poetry. M0derator: Hi, everybody. Denise is here to answer your questions about her position of poet laureate, and about poetry in general. I'm Terry Rombeck, a features reporter here at the J-W, and I'll moderate today's chat.

Denise Low: Hi, and I appreciate the J-W's sponsorship of this e-chat about poetry and the laureate position.

Moderator: First off, please tell us a little about the poet laureate program.

Denise Low: Sure. 37 states have a poet laureate, as well as the U.S., which changed the U.S. Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress to a Poet Laureate Consultant in 1986. Kansas began its poet laureate position in 2005. Jonathan Holden is the first poet laureate. He established a great website and held teleconference Shoptalk programs throughout his tenure. I plan to continue the website. In addition, I will provide an electronic page about a Kansas poet biweekly, to be sent to Kansas libraries and other places. I'll also post this on my blog, These may be used for educational purposes. Then we'll publish this, through the Washburn Center for Kansas Studies. Tom Averill nominated me for this position, and more information is on the Kansas Arts Commission website.

nativekansan: Hi, Denise, First, congratulations about becoming the Poet Laureate. I'm a poet and have a pile of poems ready to send off for possible publication -- but am clueless about where they should be sent. Are you, in the future, possibly going to run seminars on poetry writing, including publication?

Denise Low: Thanks for your good wishes. Coming up in the near future, August 11, 9:30 at the Lawrence Public Library, I will be the guest for an open meeting of the Kansas Authors Club. I will be happy to address this question in more detail then. I have held such discussions in the past and attended many. The best quick advice is to look in a recent copy of Writers Digest-Poetry (or whatever your genre). They have very, very good lists of how to prepare a manuscript, places to send work, agents, etc. They do a great job. My own advice beyond what they tell you is: Get involved in a writers' group Take a class through the Art Center, KU, or wherever. Try publishing in local organizations--the LJ-World, for example, publishes poetry. My first publication was a newsletter.

mhb: What are some ways that libraries can help promote an appreciation for poetry?

Denise Low: Excellent question, and I think I know who this is... how about the River City Bookfair, Oct. 14, I believe (that weekend anyway--stay posted), where many area writers including Jo McDougall, Barry Barnes, and myself, and many more will present free discussions of writing and reading. I noticed the Lawrence library at one time had open mics for high school students. That's a great idea. I really am impressed with the number of contemporary poetry books in the library, but I'd like to see more local writers' works. And how about a nook for Kansas literary journals? First Intensity, Midwest Quarterly, Cottonwood, and others?
jniccum: Area musicians and filmmakers have to constantly defend the fact that they're from Kansas. Does the same thing happens to you within the poetry community?
Denise Low: Oh boy yes. I cross the river to KC even, and I'm bucolic. I have come to appreciate that my regional dialect is different from the mainstream one, my aesthetic is different, and my reasons for writing are different. My experiences are not in the national memory bank, either: most Americans--like 80% or more--live within 100 miles of an ocean coast. So when I write about prairie burning, it's very abstract to folks outside the area. Wes Jackson has a very nice riff in Altars of Unhewn Stones about how urban Americans LEFT the rural life (1900 American was 90% rural; now less than 10% of America is rural), so the old, discarded place is the Midwest, while the urban coastal area is the Promised Land.

monkeywrench: you mention poetry discussions. what about workshops/clinics?

Denise Low: Conferences are a great learning experience, and also any workshop or clinic you can find. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg does great ones, including one with Kelley Hunt. Her website is Also, Gov. Sibelius has initiated a state-wide book fair, to be in Wichita this fall, also. I'm not good at remembering dates, but I have these events posted on my blog. My former mentor Carolyn Doty, a novelist, used to say it takes 10 years to learn how to write a novel. I'd say the same is true for a book of poetry. However, attendance at workshops, classes, and other instructive situations will shorten that time. In short, yes, there is some talent involved, but also writing poetry is a lot about a craft, which can be learned.
Moderator: I know you're starting a resource for introducing people to Kansas poets. Are there other books or resources out there you would suggest for reading Kansas poets' work?
Denise Low: The best resource right now is the index of poets, and their books, at also, Washburn is sponsoring a Kansas Literary Map, which comes up if you Google that title. And George Laughead at the Kansas blue skyways site has a great index of poems. Right now, the best resources are online! I edited several anthologies of Kansas poets in the 70s and 80s, respectively, but these are long out of print. Folks talk about how hard it is to sell poetry, but both of these anthologies went through several printings, and both sold out. The Ad Astra Poetry Project that I am working on should be a great new resource. Also, the Washburn Center for Kansas Studies has some relevant publications. Woodley Press at Washburn publishes Kansas area or Kansas-related writers, including poets.

Moderator: That does it for today's chat. Thanks for all your questions and thanks, Denise, for coming in to answer them. Good luck to you as your start your two-year appointment.
Denise Low: I appreciate your interest. This is an interesting time for journalism--for example the Chicago Tribune has shifted much of its book review section to online. The video clips, audio clips, interactive chats, and almost unlimited archival space online are changing how we get news and interact with cultural news. This was fun!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John Mark Eberhart's blog on book reviewing and news

John Mark Eberhart, books page editor for the Kansas City Star and a find poet with a the book Night Watch from Mid-America Press, has a fine piece on the importance of book review space in newspapers, at .

Here is an excerpt:

"I personally think it would be terribly lamentable for the nation's newspapers to diminish books coverage. To do so would be to put a knife to our own throats.

"But the most disturbing aspect of this whole thing is the larger cultural question. Are newspapers, in cutting books coverage, really just reflecting a society that cares less and less about books? Are we becoming a nation of people who prefer what I call "garbage" information -- inaccuracies or inanities or both -- over information that is factual, imaginative, truly enlightening?

"If so, then we are in big trouble. If that's not the case, then newspapers that are giving up on books coverage are trying to impose a shallower, more harried, and less interesting view of the written word upon their readers."

Eberhart is also featured poet at Prospero's Bookstore's website: .

Both of these sites, and others if you google his name, are worth spending time with on a quiet, hot July afternoon!

Here is an Eberhart poem, reprinted with permission:


I see it this way:
The evening would be
coming on. Snow would
start making fenceposts
taller. Ice would sculpt
the trees into sentinels.
We'd hear reports of roads
being closed. I'd whisper
into your ear, "see, you
can't drive home tonight."
And all this white wrath,
winter woe for other folks,
would make both of us smile.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Walt Whitman on Kansas:

"Starting from Paumanok," lines 43-44.

Here's a quotation for this fire-filled July day in Kansas.

Monday, July 9, 2007

New England Poet Philip Booth Dies at 81

The Bangor, Maine, newspaper has an obituary at this link:

The New York Times obituary author Roja D writes of Booth:

"The sense of privacy that made poetry lovers appreciate Mr. Booth’s work ultimately cost him fame. He spent hours upon hours writing and revising in his room, Ms. Booth said, drawing material from deeper and deeper within his emotional landscape. He rarely traveled on book tours or did readings for large groups."
The rest of the article is at this link:

Philip Booth scoured his landscape to find the details that turned him inward, and I remember a good afternoon with his book Relations, 20 years ago. Here is an example of his inward-outward swinging gaze, with images that reverberate:

Post-Equinox Spectra
by Philip Booth

Still weeks to ice-out
in upcountry lakes. Here
on the coast, salt-ice

gets lifted off coves
by gales and steep wave-
lengths. Tides flow hard

between the mainland
and islands. Out in
the Thorofare, two fish-

boats, blurred in thin rain,
march back and forth like
small boys' small toys.

Off Stump Cove, a red boat
and yellow boat slowly
wallow, dragging the bottom

for scallops. Across
old tides, Deer Isle and
Little Deer loom tall as

spruce, dark as deer in
their winter coats. At
the end of whatever day

this still is, a sky
like pleated gray silk
begins to glint withthin

gold caught behind it:
this last day of March
or April Fools' first.

Copyright Philip Booth
All information has been reproduced here for educational and informational purposes. No commercial or for-profit use is allowed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Kevin Prufer's Comments on Libraries Ditching Literary Magazines

Kevin Prufer, poet, editor, and board member of the National Book Critics Circle, has essential commentary on priorities in his local college library: "The library had relegated Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, and many others to the databanks. To save money and space, no paper copies will be available for readers ever again. . . ."

To read more, go to this link! CRITICAL MASS: The Graveyard of the Database