Independence's Maryfrances Wagner named Missouri poet laureate
Wagner will serve a two-year term through June 30, 2023, and follows Springfield's Karen Craigo in the role. The poet has written nine books, most recently 2018's "The Immigrants' New Camera," MAC noted in a news release.
Contributing to the form in numerous ways, Wagner serves as an editor for the I-70 Review, and previously co-edited the New Letters Review of Books with her husband, the poet Greg Field.
Wagner also remains an instrumental figure at Kansas City's The Writers Place, a space which builds a sense of literary community through workshops, readings and more. That experience will no doubt aid Wagner as poet laureate, a position whose purpose — at least in part — is to increase awareness and interest in the art form.
"I'd like to find ways to reach out to people who don't usually read poetry or even think they like it," Wagner said in the news release.
In a 2019 interview with The Magnolia Review, Wagner said she intends for her poetry to find "a universal audience."
"I want readers to be able to find themselves or relate to what I write about. Of course, the hope of most poets is that we move the reader," she added. "I always hope the reader will be moved in some way or think about what the lines mean beyond the literal."
Wagner's work touches a variety of topics. "Because I Never Learned Calculus," published by The Paddock Review in 2019, describes the speaker's tenuous relationship with math. The poem concludes:
I will never arrive
at an optimal profit, and a differential
for me is a gear. Change has always been hard
to accept, and I’ve never understood limits,
but eventually I arrive at what I need.
Previous poets laureate include a pair of mid-Missourians: Ashland's Walter Bargen, the first writer to hold the position in Missouri, and University of Missouri professor Aliki Barnstone.
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 573-815-1731.