Poet Laureate Connects with Benedictine College Students

Poet Laureate Makes Connections at Benedictine College

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Huascar Medina Speaks at Benedictine College

The Poet Laureate of Kansas recently found inspiration and connections with a group of students in an English composition class at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. While visiting with the class ahead of his “May Our Voices Ring True” event for the college community and general public, Huascar Medina presented the students with an exercise where he wrote a line, and then each person in the room had an opportunity to add a line.

“We talked about poetry being honest and true and sincere, and being open to writing poetry,” Medina said. “And the students started relaxing and I told them ‘I will write the first line, you will write the next. The only rule is you can’t look beyond the line before yours.’ It’s amazing, the consistency, the congruency within poems like these. It’s amazing how tight they are. There’s a feeling that comes out of them and it’s more of a shared experience. And I really appreciate that.”

The poem, tentatively titled “BC Class,” will be published in a later compilation, but Medina read it to those gathered for the “May Our Voices Ring True” event. Here are the first few lines:

“Where do you go for words?

Where do you turn for meaning?

Sometimes meaning hides like burning stars silent behind the lights of the city.

…”

Medina said he always hopes his poetry will help make strong connections wherever he goes, and his visit to Benedictine College seems to have been a resounding success.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Huascar Medina’s poetry!” said Claire Donahoe, a freshman Business major from Omaha, Nebraska. “I counted that he read about 20 poems, and he did not lose my interest at all throughout. He explored many themes through the poems: home, belonging, immigration, depression, racism, and creativity are just a few examples.”

“One of my favorite poems was ‘Arriving in Kansas.’ It played well to the emotions of the audience and how they related to those of the author,” said Michael Dickson, a freshman from Shreveport, Louisiana, majoring in Business Management. “Medina expressed a great desire for empathy and its establishment through vulnerability and honesty.”

As Poet Laureate of Kansas, a position established by Humanities Kansas more than a decade ago, Medina promotes the humanities as a public resource for all Kansans through public readings, presentations and discussions about poetry in communities across the state.

“I advocate for poetry, the need for it in your day to day life,” Medina said. “That it exists outside of the classroom, not to be graded, but to be shared. Ultimately, it’s a form of communication.”

“Poetry is a great way to promote ideas,” he added. “But poetry can challenge ideas. I believe poetry is the right way to have a movement of ideas because poetry is very honest and true and accessible. And it tends to inspire other people to be honest, too. If you share your truth as art, it has grace. When you say things with grace, people tend to listen, and people are more kind when they confront you.”

Medina is a poet, writer and performer who lives in Topeka. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine, publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in Northeast Kansas. His poems can be found in his collection How to Hang the Moon, published by Spartan Press. He is the winner of ARTSConnect’s 2018 Arty Award for Literary Art. His forthcoming book Un Mango Grows in Kansas will be released in 2019.

About Humanities Kansas

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, their pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with their partners and supporters, they inspire all Kansans to draw on history, literature, ethics, and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state we all proudly call home. Visit humanitieskansas.org.  

About Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named in the Top 10 in the Midwest of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

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