What It Can Do

Some readers feel intimidated by poetry. Maybe somewhere along the way, the emphasis was placed on what a poem means. What a poem “means” is the booby prize. It’s the consolation prize. Besides, nobody knows — not the teacher, sometimes not even the author.

What counts is not what a poem means, but what it does to us, where it takes us, and how it moves us. One of poetry’s best features is the element of surprise — the turn with a new view around its corner.

No time to read? Poems offer big experiences in small packages, and their gift increases with rereading. At breakfast in our house, we launch the day by reading a poem aloud — something akin to taking a daily vitamin.

Following, are a handful of our area’s fine poets, providing an impressive range of tone, approach, and subject matter.

Wyatt Townley

Wyatt Townley is Poet Laureate of Kansas Emerita, and her most recent book of poems is “Rewriting the Body.” Her work has been read on NPR, featured in “American Life in Poetry,” and published widely in journals from “The Paris Review” to “Newsweek.”

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