Established in 2004 by the Kansas Arts Commission, the two-year position of state poet laureate in Kansas is currently held by Topeka native Eric McHenry, the author of two books of poetry. McHenry’s third book is forthcoming by Waywiser Press in 2016. His first book of poems, Potscrubber Lullabies, earned him the Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007.

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Writing Program Emporia State University Kansas
Writing Program Haskell Indian Nations University Kansas
Writing Program Kansas State University Kansas
Writing Program Pittsburg State University Kansas
Writing Program University of Kansas Kansas
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Landmark Langston Hughes's hometown of Lawrence, KS Kansas
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Literary Magazine Flint Hills Review Kansas
Literary Magazine The Midwest Quarterly Kansas


John Brown of Ossawatomie spake on his dying day:
'I will not have to shrive my soul a priest in Slavery's pay;
But let some poor slave-mother whom I have striven to free,
With her children, from the gallows-stair put up a prayer for me!'

John Brown of Ossawatomie, they led him out to die;
And lo! a poor slave-
At this height, Kansas 
is just a concept, 
a checkerboard design of wheat and corn

no larger than the foldout section 
of my neighbor's travel magazine. 
At this stage of the journey

I would estimate the distance 
between myself and my own feelings 
is roughly the same as the mileage

from Seattle to New York
the full rage of kansas
turns loose upon us.

On the mexican radio station
they are singing Espiritu de mis sueños
and that is
exactly it tonight.

The spirit of my dreams
rises in the storm like vapor.

Deep clouds bulge together
and below them
we are a tiny constellation of lights
the car
laid under