Spring Poetry Series Begins Virtually

For the first time in its 37-year history, the Salina Spring Poetry Series is going virtual.

According to Salina Arta & Humanities, five local poets will read from their work via Zoom and YouTube, each Tuesday in April. The public is invited to reserve a spot to listen and interact with the poets.

The series will feature Joe McKenzie and Lori Brack on April 6, Ruth Moritz on April 13, Harley Elliott on April 20, and series founder Patricia Traxler on April 27.

“This year’s format for the Spring Poetry Series needed to adapt due to the pandemic and its impact on the community,” said Brad Anderson, executive director of Salina Arts & Humanities. “Shifting to a virtual event will allow the poets and audience to safely engage as they experience recent work by an exceptional group of poets.”

Local or far-away participants who wish to listen to the readings and ask questions will register for the event through Zoom web-based video conferencing, via a personal computer, tablet, or cell phone. To view each full session, web access to YouTube will also be necessary. Each Zoom event will begin on a Tuesday at 7 p.m CST. To register for each Poetry Series readings via Zoom, click to www.salinaarts.com/poetry_series.cfm or contact Salina Arts & Humanities at 785-309-5770 or [email protected].

Patricia Traxler, whose writing has won national and international awards, founded the Poetry Series in 1984 when she served as Salina writer-in-residence. Since that time, the series has welcomed nearly 200 state and U.S. poets laureate, writers of national and regional significance, Salina writers, and regional new voices selected by series directors. After Traxler’s tenure as series director, Moritz directed the poetry readings for 17 years. McKenzie, then director of the Salina Public Library, made the selections for a year before he retired.

“Salina Arts & Humanities staff and series organizers felt this was the perfect year to feature work by a diverse and well-qualified group of local poets, many of them who will be sharing recently published work,” Anderson said of the weekly series readings.

The line-up of poets for the 2021 Salina Poetry Series is:

  • Joe McKenzie is a writer who retired after a long career as a public librarian. He does freelance reporting and writes a column for the Salina Journal. His broad community involvement informs everything he writes. His first book of poems, At The Mercy of Ourselves, was released in 2019.
  • Brack is a freelance arts worker whose new book, A Case for the Dead Letter Detective, was published in February. She is also the author of Museum Made of Breath, published in 2018, and A Fine Place to See the Sky, a poetic script for a work of performance art by Ernesto Pujol, presented at the Salina Art Center in 2010. She is coordinating this year’s Poetry Series.
  • Moritz is a writer, an installation and graphic artist, and a retired educator. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University and is the winner of national awards for her poems and essays. She taught at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility, Kansas State University, and Kansas Wesleyan University.
  • Elliott is the author of 11 poetry collections, including two books published in 2020: The Mercy of Distance: New and Selected Poems and Creature Way. He is also the author and illustrator of a children’s book and a memoir. Elliott taught art at Marymount College for 13 years and served as education coordinator at the Salina Art Center until his retirement.
  • Traxler is the author of a novel, Blood, the short story collection In the Skin, published in 2020, and four poetry collections including the 2019 Kansas Book Award winner Naming the Fires. She was twice named the Bunting Poetry Fellow at Radcliffe, and she has read her award-winning poetry at many universities.

Books by the poets will be available for purchase at Ad Astra Books & Coffee House, 141 N. Santa Fe, at least a week before the series begins