Missouri Poet Laureate Performs Interactive Reading Via Facebook Live

The Department of English at Westminster College hosted a virtual poetry reading by Missouri poet laureate Karen Craigo at 4 p.m. on April 2 via Facebook Live. The reading is one of the first live online events the College has hosted since the COVID-19 pandemic forced administrators to close the physical campus.

Craigo was appointed state poet laureate by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson in November 2019. Her term runs through 2021. A resident of Springfield, MO, and editor of the 128-year-old weekly newspaper The Marshfield Mail, Craigo is the author of two books of poetry: Passing Through Humansville and No More Milk.

Assistant Professor of English Dr. Jeremy Reed organized the event and says that although it is unfortunate Craigo could not be on campus, the online format worked out well for all.

“Several people told me afterward that they found listening to Craigo’s reading from their homes to be sustaining in a semester when we can’t go to events like poetry readings in person, and I couldn’t agree more,” Reed says. “The poems she read focused on in the kinds of intersecting care that are as important this spring as ever before: care for ourselves, for our family past and present, for our work and for the arts — like poetry — that connect us.”

In her 30-minute presentation, Craigo read a variety of original poems and discussed the dominant themes of loss and motherhood found in her poetry. She also offered fledgling poets advice on how to start writing poetry. Craigo advises setting a timer and free writing for a short period of time. From there, a poem can be composed relatively easily by pulling out key sentences and phrases.

“Keep the pen moving and let things come out of it,” Craigo explained. “You can revise later, but don’t restrict yourself too much up front.”

The event can be viewed in its entirety by going to the English Department’s Facebook page here.



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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.