Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Denise Low Remembers the New American Poetry Collection at the Kenneth Spencer Library

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, John Moritz started a reading series and asked me to join an advisory group for the "Literary Ephemera" at the University of Kansas' Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The group included Moritz, Kenneth Irby, myself, and Rob Melton, founder of this collection now known as the New American Poetry Collection. We met regularly and planned for readers to visit Lawrence in association with the collection. These included Joanne Kyger, Robert Duncan, Edward Dorn, Tom Raworth, and others. A belated thank you to John Moritz, who demonstrated the importance of individual support of such endeavors.
Since that time I have been aware of how important libraries are as vibrant vessels that hold and celebrate poetry as well as many other kinds of texts and artifacts.  Language is something we learn all our lives, and as Leslie Marmon Silko explains in the novel Ceremony, it is “a continuing process,” connected to a webwork, and each word has a history of its uses. Each word is refreshed each time we use it. 
I so appreciate this wonderful literary tradition we share, in all its permutations. And I thank you for sharing this moment with me and the literary community we form together.