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poet laureate > services & programs
photo by Terry Weckbaugh
photo by Terry Weckbaugh

photo by Terry Weckbaugh



Wyatt Townley is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2013-2015. Her work has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize, read by Garrison Keillor on NPR, featured by Ted Kooser in his American Life in Poetry column, and appeared in hundreds of venues ranging from The Paris Review to Newsweek. She has published five books, three of poems.

Wyatt won a Master Artist Fellowship in Poetry from the Kansas Arts Commission to complete her latest work, The Afterlives of Trees (Woodley Press), a Kansas Notable Book and winner of The Nelson Poetry Book Award. Other books of poetry include Perfectly Normal (The Smith) and The Breathing Field (Little, Brown).

The confluence of poetry and poetry-in-motion has shaped Wyatt's life. Formerly a dancer, she ran her own dance company in New York, receiving grants from National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. She has taught yoga for over thirty years and is the founder of Yoganetics®, a therapeutic system that has spread to ten countries ( HarperCollins published her book on the method, deemed an "Editor's Choice" by Yoga Journal. For years a dance critic for Dance Magazine and The Kansas City Star, Wyatt was commissioned by the Kansas City Ballet to write its 50th commemorative history, Kansas City Ballet: The First Fifty Years.

A founding board member of The Writers Place, and for years a visiting author with Young Audiences, she serves on the board of the Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education.

Programs Offered

Readings / Talks / Discussions:
Wyatt is available to give poetry readings, talks, and discussions wherever she travels. These events can vary in length, and can be offered as a stand-alone or tailored to combine with other readers and services.

  • Coming Home to Poetry (30-60 minutes)
    The notion of "home" is a long-held Kansas value. Join Poet Laureate of Kansas Wyatt Townley as part of her statewide conversation about coming home to poetry. "Poetry is a place we can return to in all kinds of weather," she says, "with its innate power to heal and comfort, transform and inspire. Its porch light is always on." Wyatt will discuss what home is, what poetry is, and how they intersect—reading her own work as well as other poets.

All workshops are appropriate for beginners as well as veteran writers. Handouts are given in each workshop, designed to support participants beyond the immediate experience.

  • Letters from Home: Writing Sensory Poetry (2 hours)
    Experience the body as a "place," not an object—a place you can call home and write from. Sharpening the five senses will breathe life onto the page and anchor the reader there with you. In this interactive mind/body session, we'll do sensory writing and point-of-view experiments toward the goal of creating fresh, original poetry from a new angle.
  • HomeWords: Little Poems, Big Picture (60 minutes)
    Let’s make ourselves at home on the page. Together we’ll explore the notion of “home” from micro to macro: body, house, land, sky. To approach these big ideas, we’ll use a very small poem, the American Cinquain—a simple, dynamic form that both beginners and longtime poets can write successfully. (This workshop is offered in conjunction with Wyatt’s Poet Laureate project, Homewords, a weekly column syndicated in newspapers statewide.)
  • The Writing Life: Ouch! Backsavers for Writers (60 minutes)
    Hemingway finally had to write standing up. Writers (just like pianists) bend over a keyboard for hours at a time, and it's common for our backs to hurt. If your spine is turning into a question mark, come to this workshop for practical hands-on tips on alignment, breathing, and sitting. We'll also explore the latest in ergonomic work stations, so you can set yourself up for success.

And now for something completely different:
Wyatt offers gentle yoga workshops in tandem with writing presentations—appropriate for beginners and the perfect punctuation in a day of sitting and talking. With over 30 years of teaching experience, Wyatt is recognized at the highest level by Yoga Alliance, the national registry of yoga teachers.

  • Poetry in Motion: Smart Yoga for Bodies in Transition (75-90 minutes)
    The body has been with us since birth and goes everywhere with us, yet many of us don't feel at home in it. However inflexible you may feel—and whatever your age or size—this gentle system of yoga starts exactly where you are and moves you away from stress and pain toward energy and feel-good embodiment.

    Poets in particular find this an inspiring approach. Figurative language is used to demonstrate anatomical principles, and breathing techniques put the body into a poetic state where we can free-associate and access our innate creativity. Books and videos are available to support participants beyond the workshop, on and off the mat.

Technical Requirements:

  • Depending on the space, a microphone / sound system may be needed
  • 6ꞌ table for book sales / signing [set up prominently somewhere near entrance to event space]
  • 2 chairs (with signing table)
  • Additional side table up front by Wyatt's music stand
  • For backsaver workshop: a room with rows of straight chairs spaced with 2-3 feet of space between them.
  • For yoga workshop: a large carpeted room, cleared of furniture and vacuumed, with a thermostat we can crank up and lights we can dim down. Wyatt will need a chair and table at the "front" of the room.