The Kansas Humanities Council announces that Eric McHenry of Lawrence has been named the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Kansas. In this role, McHenry will promote the humanities as a public resource for all Kansans through public readings, presentations, and discussions about poetry in communities across the state.
"Eric brings to the Poet Laureate of Kansas position an abundance of talent and enthusiasm," said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council. "As a writer, his words seem effortless, although we know how meticulously and thoughtfully he deliberates on each one. As a teacher, his intelligence and humor make poetry come alive. The combination of these qualities will make Eric an exceptional poet laureate for our state."
"There's nothing I love more than sharing poetry with people, and I look forward to doing that in every corner of Kansas over the next two years," said McHenry. "I think we're all grateful when we encounter language that's equal to life's richness and complexity. Poetry can provide that."
Eric McHenry is a nationally known poet and associate professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka. His work has been featured in publications such as Poetry International, Slate, Yale Review, and Topeka magazine, among many others. He also contributes poetry reviews for the New York Times and Columbia magazine. Odd Evening, his third book of poems, will be published by Waywiser Press in 2016.
A fifth-generation Topeka native, Eric has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry seven times and received the Theodore Roethke Prize in 2011. His first book of poems, Potscrubber Lullabies, earned him the prestigious Kate Tufts Discovery Award in 2007, the largest American prize for a first book of poetry.
Outside of the college classroom, Eric has taught poetry in various settings, including K-12 teacher workshops, adolescent service agencies, local authors' groups, and libraries.