Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Jonathan Holden: Poet Laureate of Kansas: 2005-2007

Academic journal article The Midwest Quarterly

Jonathan Holden: Poet Laureate of Kansas: 2005-2007

Article excerpt

In 2004 the Kansas Arts Commission, ill order to serve the cultural tradition of the state and to encourage the appreciation of poetry in Kansas, established the post of Poet Laureate of Kansas to recognize a citizen poet of exceptional talent and accomplishment.

That fall, a Kansas Arts Commission panel selected Jonathan Holden from among nearly a dozen candidates for the honor of serving a two-year term as the state's first Poet Laureate, a post he has held since his formal appointment by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius on July 1, 2005.

Jonathan Holden is recognized as one o[" America's foremost poets. In the words of former U. S. Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, "Jonathan Holden is one of our most intelligent poets.... It is not always easy to be both brilliant and generous of spirit. It is our good fortune that Holden wears his learning lightly and with such unaffected grace and charm."

As Kansas Poet Laureate, Dr. Holden has given frequent talks and readings, has assisted in establishing a web site (www.kansaspoets.com) dedicated to Kansas poetry, and has hosted a series of video conferences, "Shoptalk," featuring Kansas poets reading from and discussing their work.

Following is an excerpt from Dr. Holden's Laureate's statement to Kansas poets: "What is the role of poetry in Kansas? Or what use is it? My answer would be similar to that of Robert Frost. He said a good poem is 'a momentary stay against confusion.' It was Frost too who spoke [in his poem] 'Directive' about the need for art to give us perspective from an existence in which we are all too often in danger of 'suffocation,' suffocation in our jobs, in the day-to-day exigencies, when he wrote, 'Back out of 'all this now too much for us, ... Make yourself up a cheering song of how/Someone's road home from work this once was, ... Then make yourself at home. …

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