I’m excited to announce I’ve been selected as the new Nebraska State Poet.
The most profound honor for me is knowing Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Library Commission as well as a board of people I greatly admire as voices for literacy and creativity in the state chose me as State Poet.
Though I wasn’t able to make the announcement until this evening, the selection was made official earlier in the week, and I’m proud to say that my first day as official State Poet had me hosting Albuquerque Poet Laureate Manuel González and his daughter, Sarita Sol González, who was named by Juan Felipe Herrera as “Youth Poet Laureate.” We spent yesterday at Lincoln High School and Hastings College, where Manuel and Sarita brought their poems and their vibrant presence to great audiences. (Thanks, also, to the anonymous stranger who stopped to help me change a flat tire along the interstate so I could get Manuel and Sarita safely to Hastings!)
Since moving back to my home state in 1995, it’s been my goal to create opportunities which weren’t here for writers when I was coming up. I started PoetryMenu.Com in 2000, the OM Center Poetry Slam in 2002, open mics, Morpo Press (which published chapbooks by local poets), festivals like the Great Plains Poetry Pile Up, reading series which paired experienced poets with young writers, and my work with the Nebraska Writers Collective and the Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains Youth Poetry Festival. Through my work as State Poet, I plan to continue and expand this mission over the next five years in communities around the state.
Yes, there will be a party. Yes, there will be cake.
Thank you, Twyla M. Hansen (Nebraska State Poet 2013-2018); thank you, Sarah McKinstry-Brown; thanks Sophia and Lucia, I am grateful for your support.
Here’s an article in the Omaha World-Herald about my selection as Nebraska State Poet:
I’ve worked as a teaching artist for Nebraska’s Poetry Out Loud for the past 11 years. In Poetry Out Loud, students around the country memorize poems from a list, anything from a centuries-old sonnet by Shakespeare to a Naomi Shihab Nye poem written in the past few years. I love coaching students on how to choose the poem that’s right for them and finding their own way to recite it, and I’ve certainly dreamed about having one of my own poems on the list. Today, a student from San Luis Obispo High School emailed me with questions for a school assignment as he said he was working on my poem “The Story of Ferdinand the Bull” for POL. Which I didn’t know was on the list. So, well, my day has improved significantly. And it wasn’t half bad to start with.
So what am I working on? A lot. After a few years falling behind (but still writing a poem every week), I’ve been editing and getting books of my poems together. Mainly, that’s 3 manuscripts:
1. A Story About Disneyland (and Midlife (and Churros))
3. Rock Stars [largely, this one is poems about eighties rock]
Right now, most of the work is going into the Disneyland manuscript as, well, it’s been a blast to work on. So watch for a new book, umm, at some point…
In fact, my Disneyland poems have recently appeared in Defenestration, Lowestoft Chronicle, appearing soon in Sugar House Review, and a recording of one poem on the Mousetalgia podcast, Episode 521.
Catch the Voices Creating Change podcast for a chat with me and Amanda Stevenson about poetry, the Nebraska Writers Collective, Disneyland, the works!
I’m excited to have a review of US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s “Wade In The Water” published by World Literature Today this week. She does some amazing things with erasure poetry and found poetry, two types of poem I don’t always know what to think of:
I have 2 poems in the latest issue of 2River View:
I am grateful to Hawai`i Pacific Review for publishing a poem of mine which was a blast to work on. I know, it looks lighthearted, but every weird phrase in it took a lot of work to get just right (and every one refers specifically to something, it’s not just random).
I got the acceptance note for the poem on Father’s Day, which was something special to me as my dad was born in Hilo, so anything Hawai`i reminds me of him, gone 27 years now. I know, it’s an odd poem to carry a message from the afterlife, but I’ll take it. So check it out and enjoy!
On a 2-week residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City, I hit the reset button and got a TON of work done editing poems, collecting them into several manuscript piles, and sending the best poems out to magazines. In just the past couple weeks, 2 places each took a pair of poems. So check out my work at:
World Literature Today
and Tipton Poetry Journal
I’m honored to have poems in a pair of great anthologies released this spring. One celebrates 20 years of The Backwaters Press and the other celebrates 150 years of Nebraska Poetry so, yeah, it’s kind of cool.
Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology, 1867-2017
The first anthology of its scope, Nebraska Poetry encompasses 150 years of the state’s literary history, featuring 80-plus poets and more than 180 poems. This landmark collection includes poems by authors best known for their prose—like Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, and Tillie Olsen—as well as some remarkable but relatively forgotten writers from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Among the contemporary writers, it includes poets of Nebraska’s renowned “second renaissance” along with a rich array of younger writers who are redefining what poetry from and about the state might represent. A broadly inclusive as well as diverse anthology, Nebraska Poetry celebrates the state’s brilliant contribution not only to Great Plains literature but to the broader traditions of American letters.
Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology
Watching the Perseids: The Backwaters Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology features poems from BWP’s authors from the past 20 years. This anthology commemorates The Backwaters Press’s 20 years as a nonprofit literary publisher located in Omaha, Nebraska. Virtually every poet published by the press in its first two decades is represented here with two new, previously unpublished poems selected specifically for this volume.
In Alumni News
A nice article is fresh out from Santa Clara University, my undergrad, about me and poetry: