Wyatt Townley, Poet Laureate of Kansas
Wyatt Townley, Poetic License

Wyatt Townley, Poetic License

Poet Laureate

Wyatt Townley served as Poet Laureate of Kansas (2013-2015), a post sponsored by Humanities Kansas. Her mission was two-fold: bringing people home to poetry and poetry home to people.

Toward the first task, Wyatt crisscrossed the state with a program called Coming Home to Poetry: what is home, where is home, and how does it intersect with poetry? As Pico Iyer says, home is a piece of soul rather than a piece of soil.

Toward the second, she edited HomeWords, a weekly column syndicated in newspapers statewide. Poets of the region considered "home" from micro to macro—from the mobile home of the body, to the house it inhabits, to the land that holds the house, to the sky that enfolds it all. HomeWords published 105 poems for the 105 counties of Kansas.

"The laureateship was a big experience," she says. "It took me through the far-flung beauty of Kansas and its welcoming people, through 80mph winds in Greensburg and blizzards in Liberal. I read to a dog and slept in a silo. It was all poetry, all the way down."