Kansas Poet Laureate
Kansas' 1st Poet Laureate, 2005-2007




Jon Holden



Previous Kansas
Poet Laureates


1. Jonathan Holden

2. Denise Low

3. C. Mirriam-Goldberg

4. Wyatt Townley

5. Eric McHenry

6. Kevin Rabas


Laureate History








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    Jonathan Holden

May 21, 2005

Jonathan Holden was officially recognized as Kansas' 1st Poet Laureate, Saturday, May 21, 2005 at the annual Kansas Governor's / Kansas Art Commission's recognition and awards event.  The gathering was held at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas.  The event was attended by several other arts award recipients and their invited guests.

Mr. Holden, a University Distinguished Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, was praised by both Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Kansas Arts Commission Director, Dave Wilson for his lifetime dedication to study, writing  and teaching of poetry.

Upon receiving a special certificate from the Governor, Mr. Holden both addressed and thanked the notable crowd for the honor.  Holden expressed excitement at filling the post.  He stated that he was eager to begin his term which will include the implementation of several projects aimed at poets of all ages, including students at all grade and college levels.

Jonathan Holden   Jonathan Holden

Laureate Statement...

First, a heartfelt thank you to Governor Sebelius and the Kansas Arts Commission for your diligent work in establishing this privileged position.  And thank you to all Kansas poets--those Kansans who tirelessly knead and shape words into the spirit of both poetry and Kansas--for your trusted support.  I am humbly honored and look forward to pursuing the goals and ambitions of the post to your expectations. 

What is the role of poetry in Kansas?  Of what use is it?  My answer would be similar to that of Robert Frost.  He said a good poem is “a momentary stay against confusion.”  It was Frost too who spoke in “Directive” about the need for art to give us perspective from an existence in which we are, all too often, in danger of  “suffocation,” suffocation in our jobs, in the day-to-day exigencies, when he wrote, “Back out of all this now too much for us,. . . Make yourself up a cheering song of how/ Someone’s road home from work this once was,. . . Then make yourself at home. . . . Here are your waters and your watering place./ Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.”  Do we turn, then, to art for “escape”?  Not exactly.  Perspective is not escape, but it is a form of  comfort, just as Aristotle’s definition of Art, “habit of production according to right method,” reminds us how important “habit” is, remembering how we learn everything from a tennis backhand to driving a nail straight:  through practice.

To promote the practice of poetry in the state of Kansas, I propose a series of poetry readings and conversations by and about Kansas poets.  The  Kansas Poets Shoptalk Series would consist of readings of contemporary poets, as well as readings and discussions of past Kansans, in order to provide an historical perspective.  In this way, we can create a Kansas-wide community of poets who have access for continued discussion and “shoptalk”to the finest and most knowledgeable poets across the state no matter the location.


        Jonathan Holden
            Kansas Poet Laureate


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