February 04, 2016 11:15AM
Kansas Poet Laureate Eric McHenry will read from his own work at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of Pittsburg State University’s Overman Student Center. The event, sponsored by the PSU Distinguished Visiting Writers’ Series and the Student Fee Council, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
McHenry, who was named poet laureate of Kansas in April 2015, says the job brings its unique challenges.
“I think if you’re a poet and from Kansas, you spend a lot of time trying to justify poetry to Kansans or trying to justify Kansans to poets,” McHenry said. “Both poetry and Kansas are things that people are sometimes a little skeptical about. People don’t know enough about them, so they jump to quick conclusions.”
PSU Associate Professor Christopher Anderson describes McHenry’s poetry as “witty and thoughtful, populated with baseball players, jazz musicians, and 1960s rock and rollers. His audience will be captivated by the way even beer commercials and ‘The Simpsons’ become poetic subjects.”
McHenry’s Kansas roots run deep. A native of Topeka, he is a fifth generation Kansan. Today, McHenry lives in Lawrence with his wife and two children and teaches creative writing at Washburn University. His most recent book of poetry is “Odd Evening.” He’s also written “Potscrubber Lullabies,” and “Mommy Daddy Evan Sage.” His poetry has appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, Cincinnati Review Field, Orion, The Guardian, and more.
McHenry has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize and awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which is the biggest American prize for a first book of poetry, and the Theodore Roethke Award. He is also a critic for The New York Times Book Review.