Kevin J. Rabas named Poet Laureate of KansasTM

April 20, 2017

The Kansas Humanities Council has named Kevin Rabas, chair of Emporia State’s Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism, the Poet Laureate of KansasTM, 2017-2019.

To be named state poet laureate is one of Kansas’s highest literary honors. The poet laureate engages in a range of activities to foster literary citizenship and engagement in the state. The duties include giving talks and readings across Kansas to promote poetry and the arts and humanities. Rabas’ new role begins today and there will be a local ceremony in Emporia in early June.

“We are so fortunate to live in a state of talented poets and writers,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council. “Kevin brings a deep understanding of poetry and a joyfulness in sharing it with others. I know Kevin is eager to get out on the road, and Kansans will welcome him around the state.”

Rabas is an active poet, playwright, jazz musician, and professor of English. He is author of seven books of poetry, including “Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano¸” which was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2010. He is also author of two books of prose and several short plays. His writing has earned numerous awards and recognitions, including the Nelson Poetry Book Award, the Kansas Notable Book Award, the Langston Hughes Poetry Award, the Victor Contoski Poetry Award and the Jerome Johanning Playwriting Award. 

At ESU, Rabas’ accomplishments have been recognized with the President’s Award for Research and Creativity (2012), and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Award for Excellence in Scholarship (2010).

Rabas is a professor of English who has taught poetry, playwriting, literary publishing and contemporary literature at ESU since 2005. He has served as co-director of the ESU Creative Writing program since 2006. On campus, he has served in such roles as president of the faculty and assistant director of the University Honors Program.

An active presenter in the state and region, his new presentation schedule as poet laureate, will include a series called “Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.” In approximately one talk per month for the Kansas Humanities Council, he will present at a range of venues. Through poetry, Rabas will explore the beauty and value in everything around us.

“Poetry reminds us that every little bit of our lives is meaningful,” Rabas said. “Part of the poet’s job is to remind us to observe and cherish the world and our lives in it.”

Support for the Poet Laureate of Kansas has been provided by the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, Overland Park, and KHC’s Friends of the Humanities.

To learn more about the Poet Laureate of KansasTM program or to request a presentation with Rabas, go to http://kansashumanities.org/programs/poet-laureate-of-kansas/ or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC director of programs, at leslie@kansashumanities.org or 785-357-0359.

About the Kansas Humanities Council

The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community-based cultural programs and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities.

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