I'm grateful to be part of a large network of writers and artists whose work I value greatly, and without whom I would certainly not be a writer at all, let alone a writer who enjoys his work so very much. Borrowing inspiration from another poet (I owe you one, Melissa!), here are some poets, writers, and artists who have inspired my own work. This list will be updated on a somewhat regular basis.
Alexandria Arceneaux - My artistic partner, best friend, and wonderful spouse. Alex's artwork has appeared in the John T. and Connie Staton Art Gallery, the Mark Arts – Mary R. Koch Arts Center, and other venues, and has won purchase awards from several institutions. A multi-disciplinary artist, Alex has worked in painting, drawing, printmaking, engraving, sculpture, and ceramics. They are a constant positive influence in my life, and inspire me with their artistic practice. Alex is an artist everyone will know of one day soon.
Thomas Fox Averill - Writer-in-Residence at Washburn University, Tom has written a number of acclaimed novels and short stories. The winner of an O. Henry Award for his short fiction, Tom also founded the Kansas Studies Collection at Washburn.
Ruth Awad is a Lebanese-American poet and the author of Set to Music a Wildfire, a poetry collection about the Lebanese civil war. She has an excellent eye for detail and empathy, which shows in her work.
James Benger - James is a Kansas City-based poet and all-round cool cat. He has chapbooks published with EMP and GigaPoem, and he helms the online writing group 365 Poems in 365 Days. This writing group has generated an anthology of writing and continues to post inspiring new poems every day. I'm grateful to be a part of it, and to know James and his work.
Denyce Celantano is an associate professor of Painting & Drawing at the LSU School of Art. Her work has been featured in exhibitions across the United States, and she is a formidable academic and good friend. Instrumental in both Alex's and my growth as artists during graduate school, Denyce is certainly an artist to watch.
Daniel Colson - A professor at Emporia State University, Dan specializes in literary criticism and Anarchist literature. He is the Editor of Publications for Sigma Tau Delta, and was a huge influence on my own facility with close-reading and analysis.
Brian Daldorph - A native Englishman and a skilled poet, Brian teaches at the University of Kansas, publishes Coal City Review, and helms Coal City Press. He has helped my own writing in great measure.
Camille Dungy - Camille is a professor of English at Colorado State University. She's the author of many great collections, including Smith Blue, winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Review Open Book Prize. Camille is also an astute poetry critic in person and on the national level, and a finalist for the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism for Guidebook to Relative Strangers.
Harley Elliott - Harley is a Salina, Kansas poet and visual artist whose Allies painting series developed in response to a cancer diagnosis. Harley is now completely cancer-free, and has continued this painting series to acclaim. Several of his poetry collections, including Darkness at Each Elbow, have been published by Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn, New York.
Amy Fleury - A professor at McNeese State University with a steadfast sensibility, and one of my poetry mentors, Amy is the author of the poetry collections Beautiful Trouble and Sympathetic Magic. in 2016 she recruited me to McNeese's MFA in Creative Writing.
J. Bruce Fuller - J. has been a source of education and commonality for me during my time in Louisiana. The publisher of Yellow Flag Press and a talented poet (of place and otherwise), J. has published several chapbooks, and he holds a PhD from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, J. is now Acquisitions Editor at Texas Review Press.
Jim Hoy - A member of the National Cowboys Hall of Fame, Dr. Jim Hoy taught English at Emporia State University for many years, and has published over one hundred articles as a scholar and researcher. With specializations as far-reaching as Western American and Australian Outback folklore, medieval English literature, and pedagogy, Dr. Hoy is also a gifted guitarist and longtime rancher.
John Jenkinson - John teaches English at Butler Community College, and is the publisher and eeditor at Oil Hill Press. His work on various chapbooks piqued my interest early--including such selections as Daniel Spees' Michaelangelo's Snowmen--and his own poetry is excellent. His poetry collection Rebekah Orders Lasagna is from Woodley Press.
Allison Joseph - Allison directs the MFA program at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and edits Crab Orchard Review. A prolific poet, Allison is the author of My Father's Kites, Worldly Pleasures, and other collections, and she runs No Chair Press, a press dedicated to traditional verse poetry by women.
Clare L. Martin - Clare is the author of Seek the Holy Dark and Eating the Heart First, and she is the Founding Editor of MockingHeart Review. Her skill at organizing poetry events is legendary, and she's one of the all-around cooler people I know.
Terry Maxwell - A gifted watercolorist with an art career spanning over sixty years, Terry has exhibited in shows across the country. A member of the National Watercolor Society, he's also a good friend whose resourcefulness is continually encouraging. He also graced the cover of my chapbook First Breaths of Arrival with his painting Across the Universe.
Ronda Miller - a Lawrence, Kansas poet and life coach, Ronda is the author of MoonStain and WaterSigns. Her work as the Vice President of the Kansas Authors Club has helped spread poetry's influence throughout the state and beyond.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg - A steady arbiter of poetry and all writing, Caryn is the 2009 - 2013 Kansas Poet Laureate. She has been instrumental in my involvement in the poetry world, having published several anthologies of Kansas poets. She founded the Master's Program in Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College.
Jenny Molberg - Jenny is a professor at the University of Central Missouri, the poetry editor of Pleiades, and the author of Marvels of the Invisible (Tupelo Press, 2017). Her talent for rendering personal events through a univeralizing lens in her poetry makes her debut collection potent, and I'm looking forward to her next work.
Taryn Möller Nicoll - Taryn is Program Coordinator for The Frank in Miami, Florida. An immensely talented painter and collage artist and a wonderful friend, she creates art as analyses of surgeries she witnesses as part of her efforts to foster understanding for victims of trauma. Taryn's 2017 MFA thesis at Louisiana State University, Chronicle and Character, showcased that work. Taryn also provided the inspiration for my chapbook Consolation Prize, which centers on the same thematic material.
Jeanette Powers - Jeanette, the talented curator of The Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City, is a good friend and arts advocate. She is also the author of nine poetry books, including the chapbook Gasconade (Night Ballet Press, 2018) and the collection Tiny Chasm (39 West Press, 2016). She has received fellowships from several arts organizations including the Osage Arts Community, and will be attending a writing residency in China in 2019.
Kevin Rabas - The author of several collections of stellar poetry, Kevin is the current Poet Laureate of Kansas and Chair of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism at Emporia State University. He's one of my most influential mentors and a great friend. He also writes regularly for Jazz Ambassador Magazine, and is one hell of a jazz drummer.
William Sheldon - The author of three poetry collections including Rain Comes Riding, my father continues to influence my own writing. He's published poetry in Prairie Schooner and other venues, plays bass guitar in the band The Excuses, and collects paleolithic artifacts throughout the United States. Dad also teaches English at Hutchinson Community College.
Tracy Million Simmons - The publisher of Meadowlark Books, Tracy is also the author of the novel Tiger Hunting. She's a strong advocate for the arts in the Midwest, and she runs the Emporia, Kansas Farmer's Market.
Kim Stafford - An accomplished poet, critic, and essayist, Kim directs the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. He is also the son of the late William Stafford, Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Kim is a good friend and has helped shape my own writing focus and style.
Mel Storm - A gifted medieval scholar and researcher, Dr. Melvin Storm is the Director of Graduate Studies at Emporia State University. He has also been one of my key academic mentors, and has worked in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Storm is also known for his vintage yellow Jaguar.
Amy Sage Webb - A Roe R. Cross Professor of English at Emporia State University, Amy Webb has edited journals like Hayden's Ferry Review and Flint Hills Review. A huge influence on my understanding of Ecocriticism and its influence on poetry, Webb is the author of the story collection Save Your Own Life.
Sarah Ann Winn - Sarah is the Reviews Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and the author of Alma Almanac, winner of the Barrow Street Book Prize. She's an excellent poet and critic, and I'm happy to have her friendship.