A More Perfect Union in Extreme Times: Kansas Poets Laureate

Room 2502A, Kansas City Convention Center, Level 2
Thursday, February 8, 2024
1:45 pm to 3:00 pm


Kansas has a tradition of serving as a bellwether, showing the country and the world where we are headed, especially in difficult times. Listen to five past Kansas poets laureate talk about how the experiment of United States democracy encompasses advocacy for and through poetry and involves diverse communities and actions, including how to grow the arts in extreme political environments. "When something's going to happen in this country, it happens first in Kansas," says writer William Allen White.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: A_More_Perfect_Union_in_Extreme_Times.pdf



Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009–13 Kansas Poet Laureate, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College. Author of twenty-four books, including a memoir on cancer and community, and other prose, she leads community writing workshops for people living with serious illness and teaches widely.

Kansas Poet Laureate Emeritus and Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, Huascar Medina is a father and arts administrator. He’s an op-ed writer at Kansas Reflector, an editor for seveneightfive magazine, Southbroadway Press, and latinidad.us. Medina also sits on the National Council on the Arts.

Kevin Rabas leads the poetry and scriptwriting tracks at Emporia State. His short films have shown across Kansas, Missouri, and beyond, including Strawberry Hill Fight Club, a selection for the IFC KC film festival, KIFF, and No Coast Film Festival. Rabas served as Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2017–19.

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007–09, authored Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (University of Nebraska Press) and Shadow Light (Red Mountain Press Award). House of Grace, House of Blood (University of Arizona Press) is forthcoming. She is past AWP board president and board member of Indigenous Nations Poets.

Wyatt Townley is Poet Laureate of Kansas Emerita and the author of six books. Her work has been published in journals ranging from Newsweek to Paris Review, Yoga Journal to Scientific American. Commissioned poems hang in libraries including the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of the Hubble.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center