Brian Daldorph is a University of Kansas professor who recently published a book of poetry with Emporia’s Meadowlark Press.
Emporia-based Meadowlark Press has released a new book by University of Kansas professor Brian Daldorph called “Kansas Poems”.
“Kansas Poems” is a collection of 75 pieces that Daldorph has written over the course of his 30 years of living in Kansas.
“Being in any place for a long time, you would find things there that were inspirational,” Daldorph said. “One of the things I’ve noticed about being in Kansas is that it’s not a spectacular place the way that, say, California is or New York is or something like that. They take time to grow on you and you get used to the life here and the people here.
“It’s a slower experience than it would be in some other places and, certainly, that’s why it’s taken me such a long time to write these poems and bring this collection together. In Kansas, it takes its time to work its way into you and then you start seeing the qualities of this state.”
Daldorph emigrated from England to the United States in the 80s and moved to Lawrence after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. While at KU, he has taught literature and writing in the English department. Additionally, he has taught a weekly creative writing class at the Douglas County Jail since 2001.
“That’s been a really important part of my life and my career,” Daldorph said. “You might notice that there are several poems in the book that mention the jail and the people that I’ve met there.”
The poems in the book take place in various locations all over the state, such as Coffeyville, Garden City and Stull, where, according to legend, one can find the gate to Hell. The book contains stories of Vietnam vets and football coaches, ghosts and romances.
“The poems come from different places,” Daldorph said. “It’s always some kind of starting point, and that might be a personal experience as it was for some of the poems. It might be an image that I see of the river or of the cemetery or something like that. Or it might be meeting a person and this person has a story to tell that got me interested and I would start there. …
“I think each time you create art in general, whatever type of an artist you are, has to [have] some moment of inspiration and I think that those moments, those starting points, come in different ways.”
“Kansas Poems” is Daldorph’s eighth collection of poems and his first to be published by Meadowlark Press.
“I’ve just been so impressed with this press,” Daldorph said of Meadowlark. “I’ve gotten to know them over the last few years. I know several people who have published with Meadowlark and I’ve liked the quality of the work. I think they do interesting projects. They try to relate it to the region as much as possible. …
“I’ve been really impressed by the professionalism of the press and Tracy Simmons is great to work with. She works so hard to make each of the books that she publishes the best it can be and she promotes the work too, so that you know people take notice. I think that’s great.”
“Kansas Poems” was selected as a winner of the 2020 Birdy Poetry Prize. In celebration of that, Meadowlark Press held a virtual book launch on Friday, Feb. 5.