If there’s one thing that Kansas has an abundance of, it’s plants. University of Kansas English professor Megan Kaminski therefore decided to write about them in her recently published poetry chapbook, “Each Acre.”
“Each Acre” is a 10-part poem all about the specificity of each acre of land around us. It’s a smaller part of a project she’s currently working on called “Everything is Leaf in my Empire of the Heart,” a collection of similar poems.
“If one particular acre is dear to any person, animal, or plant, then all acres should be dear to all of us,” Kaminski said. “It’s just all about compassion, sustainability, and care for others.”
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Kaminski started writing poetry in college when a literature professor pushed her to try the medium. That was when she discovered that she loved to write.
“I didn’t really know that there were living poets out in the world,” Kaminski said. “I thought poets were the dead old guys we read in textbooks.”
After getting her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in her home state, she lived in multiple cities around the world including New York City, Casablanca, Morocco and Paris, France before finally settling down in Kansas.
“She has a lot of amazing knowledge about poetry, theory, and writing,” said Leslie Wheeler, one of Kaminski’s doctoral students. “She’s always very caring with her work and gives incredible feedback.”
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Having lived here for over a decade, Kaminski decided to make her next work about connection, compassion, and nature all around us. The Midwest just happens to be where it is centered.
“Kansas is underappreciated,” Kaminski said. “The Great Plains are underappreciated places.”
Kaminski has published two full books of poetry with a third set to publish in 2020. The central theme of her writing has been about how we live in the world, with each other, and how we can do that in a way that is more compassionate and more in line with who we truly are.
“I hope to create an immersive world for the reader to inhabit,” Kaminski said. “I’m going for an experience rather than just giving one particular message.”
Wheeler was allowed to read the manuscript before it was fully published, and she had nothing but good things to say.
“They are these perfect crystallized visions of nature and humans and the way they interact,” Wheeler said. “They are serious but at the same time very beautiful.”
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Kaminski plans to keep teaching and working on her poetry well into the future.
“I love teaching poetry to students at KU. It’s kind of my dream job,” Kaminski said. “It makes me really happy to see my students write and enjoy themselves and well as figure out the big questions. Poetry is just a great way to think about the world and to think about yourself in the world.”
With her next project, she’ll focus on animals, environmental crisis and trauma, and how we deal with living in a world where a lot of things are falling apart. Despite the dark subject, she still wants to emphasize caring for ourselves and caring for others in that kind of world.
As for “Each Acre,” you can find it at The Raven Book Store in Lawrence or by ordering online directly from the publisher, above/ground press.
Edited by Justin Hargraves