Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Muse: Kentucky's Poet Laureate

You know, when times are hard, people want poetry.
There is something about it that speaks to the human spirit.
And for that reason, I  think it will live.
~ Maureen Morehead*

Kentucky's Poet Laureate is Maureen Morehead, who will fulfill her two-year term of service at the end of 2012. (The deadline for nominations for the 2013-2014 term are due September 30, 2012.) Morehead succeeds Gurney Norman for whom I posted a profile here.

Information about Kentucky's statutorily mandated position and its responsibilities can be found in my post about Norman.

Note: In the coming weeks, please look for Monday Muse profiles on these Poets Laureate: Joyce Sutphen (Minnesota), Sheryl Noethe (Montana), Eddie D. Wilcoxen (Oklahoma), Sydney Lea (Vermont), Patricia Forlander (Wyoming), and Steven Kealohapauole Hong-Ming Wong, otherwise known as Kealoha (Hawaii).

* * *  * *

I believe that what is abstract, spiritual or mythic
 about a poem begins in imagery anchored in place.
 For me, that place is Kentucky....**

Louisville resident Maureen Morehead, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming Late August Blues: The Daylily Poems (Larkspur Press), The Melancholy Teacher (Larkspur Press, 2010), A Sense of Time Left (Larkspur Press, 2003; available through resellers),  In a Yellow Room (Sulgrave Press, 1990; available through resellers), and Our Brothers' War (Sulgrave Press, 1994), which includes short stories by Pat Carr about Kentucky women during the Civil War. (A first edition of Our Brothers' War may be available through resellers. The book was reprinted by Sulgrave in 1995 and by Howell Press in 2005, according to information at Amazon.)

To read one of Morehead's poems is to learn something about how deeply the subject of place informs her writing. As Morehead told an interviewer, "Poetry is imagery and metaphor. My imagery is drawn from here, and my imagery becomes my metaphor for what I want to say. You could follow me around for a while, and you'd see where my images come from. "*** The poet also draws on her teaching experience and historic public tragedies, such as the Civil War, the destruction of Hiroshima, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Themes in her work include love, isolation, and mortality, death, and grief, as well as time and memory. Written in free verse, Morehead's poems display great attention to craft.

Here is an excerpt from Morehead's "Why I Stopped Writing in My Diary" from Our Brothers' War:

It was May when we married.
I was sixteen.
The peach trees were in bloom,
and the white peony.

[. . .]

Forgive me.
Have you noticed
when someone you love dies
it is the sound of his boots upon gravel
that you wait for, [. . .]

Morehead's poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, California Quarterly, The Iowa Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The Louisville Review (the Winter 2012 issue is planned in honor of Morehead), The National Poetry ReviewPoet and CriticPoetry Magazine, Southern Poetry Review, and other literary periodicals, as well as in a number of anthologies, including The Kentucky Anthology: Two Hundred Years of Writing in the Bluegrass State (University of Kentucky Press, 2005), Place Gives Rise to Spirit: Writers on Louisville (Fleur-de-Lis Press, 2000), and The American Voice Anthology of Poetry (University Press of Kentucky, 1998).

The recipient of poetry fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Foundation for Women, Morehead is on the faculty of Spalding University, where she teaches in the brief-residency MFA Program in Writing. She is retired from public school teaching to which she devoted more than 30 years of her career.


Photo Credit: Spalding University MFA Faculty

All Poetry Quotations © Maureen Morehead

* Quoted from "Maureen Morehead, Kentucky Poet Laureate", Kentucky Public Radio, April 25, 2011 (Audio is included with this article.)

** Quoted from Induction Comments

*** Erin Keane, "Kentucky Inspiring to Poet Laureate Maureen Morehead", The Courier-Journal, June 19, 2011

Video of Induction Ceremony for Maureen Morehead

Maureen Morehead Profile at Spalding University

Maureen Morehead Poems Online: "Tsunami", "To Matisse", "Books", "The Melancholy Teacher", "Words", and "May These Six Poems Avoid the Slush Pile", All at Kentucky Arts Council; "Ode to the Workshop Poem" at The Kenyon Review Online; "Plans" and "Walking the Beaches for Michael" at Southern Poetry Review; "A Woman Remembers Hiroshima" at The Poet's Corner; "My Mother Is a Hand" at Public Republic; "Why I Stopped Writing in My Diary" and "Driver's License" from The Kentucky Anthology at GoogleBooks

A broadside, "The Night for Writers" is available through Larkspur Press.

Candace Chaney, "New Poet Laureate Forged Her Craft in the Classroom",, April 24, 2011

Liz Nethery, "Maureen Morehead: Kentucky Poet Laureate" in The Magazine of Spalding University, Summer 2011 (In this brief interview, Morehead talks about her affinity for language, the inspiration for her writing, influences, and her experience as Poet Laureate.)

Barbara Sabol, "Shifting and Layering of Tone in Maureen Morehead's 'My Mother Is a Hand'", Public Republic, October 8, 2008

"Maureen Morehead" in L. Elizabeth Beattie, Conversations with Kentucky Writers II (University of Kentucky Press, 1999), at GoogleBooks

"Q&A with Maureen Morehead", Kentucky Monthly, November 2011 (Morehead's poem "November" appears in a sidebar.)

Maureen Morehead on FaceBook and Pinterest

Video of Maureen Morehead Reading from The Melancholy Teacher (20:25 minutes)

Kentucky Arts Council, Five Kentucky Poets Laureate: An Anthology

Kentucky Page at Academy of American Poets

Kentucky Poetry

Kentucky Writers' Day


Louise Gallagher said...

I always love your poet Laureate series!

Peggy Rosenthal said...

Delightful to meet this other Maureen! I went to some of your links and especially enjoyed her "May These Six Poems Avoid the Slush Pile": wit and wisdom there.

Hannah Stephenson said...

That opening quotation is wonderful. I completely agree.

Anonymous said...

hard times
and simple pleasures
with more the first
the other is measured

S. Etole said...

I like what you've shared.