Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas will be reading from hisown work at 8 pm, on Thursday, February 22, in the Governors Room in the Overman Student Center. The event is free, and is sponsored by the Distinguished Visiting Writers Series, the Student Fee Council, and the Kansas Humanities Council. A reception will follow.
Rabas will be reading from three of his most recent collections: Late for Cymbal Line, All That Jazz, and Songs for My Father. Rabas is both a poet and a musician, which has piqued the interest of PSU faculty. According to Associate Professor Chris Anderson, “Rabas is a jazz musician as well as a poet, and I’m eager to hear how the sounds and rhythms of those art forms interact within his poetry.” Beyond rhythm and sound, music is also the subject matter of much of his poetry. About Songs of My Father, poet Donald Levering, author of Coltrane’s God, says, “The writing is deft and observant, with an understated humor and warmth. At the same time, it is a celebration of the ‘lick and needle of fire, song,’ that is, to the making of music. Through Rabas’s words, we are welcomed to an insider’s view of a drummer’s realm, where we learn of the timekeeper’s measured ticks and splintered drumsticks.” In all of his art, Rabas says that his central theme is finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. “[It’s] about reminding us to observe, acknowledge the beauty in our lives and how every little moment can be meaningful,” the poet says. “Observe and cherish the world and our lives in it.”
Beyond serving as the Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019), Rabas also teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has nine books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. Rabas’s plays have been produced across Kansas and in North Carolina and San Diego, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize six times. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s Award for Research and Creativity and is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award, the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award, and the Salina New Voice Award.