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Friday, November 6, 2015

Words and music intertwined

“His work tells it like it is and in plain English. No flowery, sugary words here, but words stripped to their core.” – From an interview titled “ESU’s Poet in Residence”

A delightful add-on to our recent trip to Emporia, Kansas, was getting to meet and talk with the subject of that story Kevin Rabas, poet, playwright, short story author and co-director of Emporia State University’s creative writing program.   Rabas shared terrific thoughts about collections of stories, poetry and books he had enjoyed, and about both his “growing up” years and early adult years as a reporter and photographer.  

In that same article referenced above, Rabas said that his passion for words began as a 10 year old when he would carry a heavy tape recorder strapped around his neck for his mother as she, a newspaper reporter, ran to fires that lit up the night sky.  She inspired him to become a writer, and he kept journals of his experiences.

As a native Kansan, he commonly strives to depict ordinary and extraordinary Kansans and Kansas Citians in his own award-winning poetry (the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry), which has appeared in many national literary magazines, including Nimrod, The Malahat Review, and The Mid-America Poetry Review.  
Kevin Rabas
Also is a jazz musician (percussion and drums) Rabas performs regularly, often combining his lyric poetry with jazz and funk, and citing music as a constant source of inspiration.   You can find numerous examples of Rabas performing on YouTube and other on-line sources. 

Here’s Rabas’ short poem,

Cross-Kansas road home, marked
by stretches of heather
and skeletal shelter belts; winter
on the prairie, and I'm driving
that gray band, I-35, up.

Hawks rise from roadside posts, hover,
talons out, cut air, and the I-70
pumpjacks supplicate, bend and pray
to a grey sky that stretches
endless, out and up, as in the view
from an ocean-going ship. But here
not water, but tallgrasses crest, wave.
We were all underwater once.

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