Our university will have the pleasure of hosting a prominent Kansas poet by the name of Kelly Yenser who will be reading from his new book of poetry “The News As Usual” next month. Yenser’s poetry is known for creating vivid scenes that reflect the natural environment of Kansas and weave such scenery in the mind’s eye of those who hear his work or read it. He is also a success story for those who wish to one day have their own work published, as Yenser displayed great commitment to his work and worked tirelessly in order to see his poetry published.
Yenser currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but he was born in Wichita in 1945 where he spent the first 22 years of his life. He would later go on to graduate school in 1967 to the University of Washington where he received a master’s degree in English and a minor in French. He recalled his time with the English Department at Wichita State nearly fifty years ago.
“Fifty years ago it was just an English Department with a few writers. The program did not have much support from the university,” Yenser said. “I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry. There hasn’t been a time when I wasn’t writing something down. Poems were always primary for me.”
Much of his work he credits to another writer by the name of Michael Van Wallaghen who acted as a source of inspiration for Yenser when he was attending Wichita State. Michael’s class is where he first began to seriously write poetry and considered creating a book as his instructor had done. Michael’s class is also where Yenser met his wife, Pamela, who is a writer as well.
“The News As Usual” is Yenser’s latest work and contains much of his early poetry works as well as his newer writings. It is a compilation that is separated into three sections that roughly follow his life. The first section focuses on poetry concerning his time growing up in Wichita and living in Kansas. The second section focuses on his life in Idaho and the neighborhood he was living in at the time. The third section is a summation of several different themes that are traditionally lyric and many are short. He also has a few poems focusing on his travels around the U.S. and the world.
His poems not only focus on the environments that he has experienced but also with the themes of coping with sickness and just trying to stay alive. He also writes a lot about memories from his distant past. He put emphasis on the importance of poetry and the difficulty of writing it.
“Poetry is a discipline. It takes time and effort to write it and many don’t understand that today,” said Yenser.
Yenser will be on a short reading tour that will take him through Topeka next month. He plans on traveling to Wichita and stopping in Topeka on April 17 so that he can read from his new book of poetry at 4 p.m. at the Carole Chapel. All students are encouraged to attend the event so that they can hear some stellar poetry and learn a little from someone with good experience in writing poetry and getting published. His book is also available for purchase at the Ichabod Shop.