New Kansas Poet Laureate announced
The Kansas Humanities Council has named Kevin Rabas, chairman of Emporia State University’s Department of English, Modern Languages and Journalism, the poet laureate of Kansas for 2017 to 2019.
To be named state poet laureate is one of Kansas’ highest literary honors. The poet laureate engages in a range of activities to foster literary citizenship and engagement in the state. Duties include giving talks and readings across Kansas to promote poetry and the arts and humanities. Rabas’ new role began Thursday, and there will be a ceremony in Emporia in early June.
Rabas has lived in Kansas most of his life. He says his people are here, and he loves it here. He grew up in Shawnee and has lived in Emporia since spring 2005.
Rabas is an active poet, playwright, jazz musician and English professor with a slew of awards and recognitions. While he is humble about his recognition, he is quick to note the talent that surrounds him.
“Knowing there are so many great poets in Kansas and I am just one among them made it (applying to be poet laurete) daunting, and so I just feel honored and blessed to serve in this way,” Rabas said. “Even in Topeka there are probably more than 10 truly great poets and probably 20 or 30 who are probably very, very good too.”
Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council, agreed with Rabas’ thoughts in a news release.
“We are so fortunate to live in a state of talented poets and writers,” she said. “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.”
In his first day on the job, Rabas fielded phone calls from new organizations and began planning his trips to different libraries across the state to present his talk, “Finding the Extrodinary in the Ordinary.”
“I think it’s just wonderful that people are excited about poetry, getting into the spirit of spoken and written word. It’s going to be like one long honeymoon, I think,” he said.
Rabas explained his lecture as exploring the beauty and value in everything around us, which he said he sees as his role to observe and cherish the world and people’s lives in it.
He is the author of seven books of poetry, including “Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano,” which was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2010. Rabas 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.
Rabas, also a professional jazz musician, said he gains inspiration from poets with local ties, such as Ben Lerner and Kevin Young. Young also is a jazz musician and grew up in Kansas, and Rabas says he feels a musical kinship with him.
At Emporia State University, Rabas’ accomplishments were recognized with the President’s Award for Research and Creativity in 2012 and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2010.
Rabas has taught poetry, playwriting, literary publishing and contemporary literature at Emporia State 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 faculty president and assistant director of the University Honors Program.
“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.”
Five high-school seniors from three Topeka schools were announced Tuesday evening at the Topeka Community Foundation’s scholarship reception as winners of college scholarships from Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc.
The young musicians will each receive $1,000 to further their jazz education.
Drummer Anthony Dake and bassist Katie Rogg are both from Washburn Rural High School. Jordan Rowe, from Seaman High School, plays trombone. Dalton Imhoff-Brey plays trumpet and Ty’Rese Mendez plays saxophone at Topeka High school.
Dake, Rowe, Imhoff-Brey and Mendez will all attendWashburn University, and Rogg will enroll at Kansas State University.
The student musicians join more than 350 who have received TJW scholarships in the 48 years of the nonprofit group’s program of support for future jazz performers and teachers.
The Volland Store will present the art exhibit “Levi Robb: Frenetic Pause,” Saturday through Sept. 3.
An opening reception will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Robb grew up on a small farm in southeast Iowa and lives and works in Des Moines. He creates artwork using objects he finds in rural landscapes. He analyzes, manipulates and reinterprets the artifacts through printmaking, sculpture and installation, influenced by their place in the environment and landscape. The work becomes a visual interpretation of a timeline with an inherent connection to the past.
The work encourages the viewer to take moments of pause from the frenetic existence of the modern day and observe historical artifacts and place in an entirely new way.
Robb has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Iowa State University and has spent time living in the southwest United States and Rome. His work has been exhibited in New York City and throughout the Midwest. He will attend the opening reception and will speak at 2 p.m. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.
The Volland Store is located at 24098 Volland Road, 8 miles southwest of Alma on Old K-10 Highway, then ¼ of a mile south on Volland Road. For information, visit thevollandstore.com.
The film “Zombie, Kansas,” produced by Roaring Rat Films and directed by Gary Piland, will make a world premiere Sunday at The Breakroom in downtown Topeka.
“Zombie, Kansas” is set in Dover, where a string of suspicious murders occur and, shortly afterward, a man goes missing. One of the main characters, Adelaide O’Hara, carries a mysterious secret, and as the plot progresses the townspeople find out she is not one to mess with.
Doors open at 5 p.m., with the show beginning at 6 p.m.
Admission is $5 at the door. Cast and crew for “Zombie, Kansas,” get in free. Mr. Nice Guy’s food truck will also serve food at the event, and popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase.
The Breakroom seats about 75 people on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Zombie, Kansas” is part of a trilogy with soon-to-be-released “Zombie Beauty Pageant” and “Blackstone.”
Roaring Rat Films previously produced “Zombie Tattoo Parlor,” “Zombie Chigger” and “Zombie Laundry.”
High School Musical
The Columbian Theatre in Wamego will premiere its latest production of “High School Musical” Friday evening.
It has been 11 years since the Disney movie “High School Musical” hit the small screen and started gaining popularity with young adults, Libby Stratton, production manager for the Columbian Theatre, said in a news release.
“For those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Zac Efron in his breakout role, this show has catchy, upbeat tunes that make you want to dance!” Stratton said. “If you are a fan of ‘Grease’ you will have a good time at ‘High School Musical.’ ”
Dinner will be available on opening night. Tickets are $12 for students and children and $17 for adults. The menu is roast beef with gravy, potato casserole, glazed carrots, tossed salad and dressings, dinner rolls, lemon cake with chocolate frosting and peach cobbler.
Shows will be April 21-23, 28-30 and May 5-7. Friday and Sunday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday performances begin at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for students and children and $20 for adults. For information, call the box office at (785) 456-2029.
ARTSConnect will celebrate the art of the spoken word from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Dillon House, 404 S.W. 9th St.
Proceeds benefit the Topeka Mural Project and will be used to help install public art in the community.
Annette Billings, Dennis Etzel, Matthew Spezia and the KC Friends of Alvin Ailey will perform. Tickets cost $40 and include all drinks and food.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit ArtsConnectTopeka.org.
Lawrence Civic Choir
The Lawrence Civic Choir will perform its spring concert, “Thoughts of Love,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.
The choir is directed by Steve Eubank with accompaniment by Geoff Wilcken.
The group will sing more than a dozen songs, ranging from “Sigh No More Ladies,” which includes text by William Shakespeare and music by Rene Clausen, to “Loch Lomond,” arranged by Jonathan Quick.
Tickets cost $15 at the door.
The Washburn University singers will perform their Cabaret ’17 concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Washburn Room A at the Washburn University Student Union.
The concert will feature the singers in groups and solo selections while showcasing the Washburn Jazz Combo.
Admission is a suggested $5 donation.
Jokes at Faces
At Faces by Mayfield, 802 N. Kansas Ave., the comedy scene is slowly making its way to one of Faces’ top nights of entertainment.
On Friday night, Brett Schmidt and Brian Doby will give a live stand-up comedy show hosted by Dominique Davis.
The show begins at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. with a $5 cover. Faces has a dinner menu that is the perfect complement to a night of laughter.
Bridge2Bridge 5K Run/Walk
The fifth annual Bridge2Bridge race, the only “urban” 5K in the area, will give a new perspective Saturday of the downtown core, foot view versus vehicle view.
Runners can feel the thunder of cars and trucks overhead as they traveling under I-70 and experience the sway of two different bridges crossing the Kansas River.
The race is a chip-timed event for runners and walkers with cash prizes for overall male and female runners. Awards are given to eight age categories ranging from age 10 and under to 61 and up, plus three overall awards for male and female runners.
Check-in for both pre-registered and on-site registration starts at 9 a.m. on race day, with races starting at 10 a.m. for runners and 10:15 a.m. for walkers. Walkers with strollers will be positioned at the end of the walking group, and pets aren’t allowed on the course. The race will start and finish at 515 S. Kansas Ave.
Late pre-registration, which will end at 8 a.m. Friday, costs $25 and doesn’t include a T-shirt. Race-day registration begins at 9 a.m. and costs $35 with no T-shirt.