Since the cold snowy February night in 2005 when Kansas City Metropolitan Verse, the Kansas City Chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society was founded, our core membership has held strong and has added new voices true to our mission statement: Our objective is to celebrate poetry in all its forms, contemporary and classic, to encourage the value of poetry within the community, and to support enthusiasm for this art form.
Kansas City Metropolitan Verse made our first outreach effort by collecting poetry books, marking them for BookCrossing.com and sprinkling them around the city. Any book found on restaurant tables, or movie theater counter tops, or other public shelves left there by chapter members were to be read, listed on the internet connection to be tracked, and passed on. Such fun! And free poetry for the community. That first year KC Metropolitan Verse also provided a scholarship to a student from a school in south Kansas City for a writer’s workshop to help hone the skill of this young poet.
By the second year our chapter decided to publish our own volume of work. With National Poetry Month as a goal, a tradition began. The group was featured this April at the Second Friday Art Crawl in Excelsior Springs, MO, reading from volume 5!
The Kansas City Literary Festival brought opportunity to share space with WriterHouse and Park University on the city’s Country Club Plaza, and a venue for sharing our work. The Plaza, teaming with writers, country-wide and local, provided our first public reading.
As a meet-up group the members of kcmetroverse attend poetry readings around the city. We have heard Ted Kooser, featured poet, as well as Missouri’s first poet Laureate, Walter Bargen, when we hosted the state convention of the Missouri State Poetry Society in 2009. We have attended readings of Donald Hall, Charles Simic, BF Fairchild, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan, Billy Collins and countless others as we get together at readings around the city. Kansas City is alive with poetry and we go on a poetry quest. Sitting on the front row at the downtown library we even spent an evening with Langston Hughes (portrayed by a talented re-enactor).
This past spring one of our poets brought a poetry form to our attention, the renga. We attended the launch of a national movement to share art and ideas using this form, America: Now and Here, which linked some of our nation’s finest poets in Crossing State Lines, an American Renga, followed by The K.C. Renga: Ghost Over Water with many of our city’s talented poets. Inspired by these creations, we linked with our own Revival Resurgence Renewal: a kcmetroverse renga. It was published in the Missouri State Poetry Society newsletter, Spare Mule, and was featured in a read-around in a Chicago area circle of creative writers and poets.
Poetry has moved from the pages of our journals to numerous on-line publications as well as published books of poetry. Two poets in our chapter are winners of the Crystal Fields Award for Poetry. Another was nominated by the National Association of University Women for the Thorpe-Menn Award. Among national contributing poets, one of our own was featured with his work in a collection of poetry-inspired abstract paintings displayed in a local gallery. We are also very proud of the four published poets in our circle.