Huascar Medina: I write for everyday, ordinary people so they can have extraordinary moments of truth and empathy. That’s what my writing is geared towards. So I want to have conversations through poetry
Jo Reed: That was poet Huascar Medina and from the National Endowment for the Arts, This is Art Works, I’m Josephine Reed.
We winding up our celebration of National Poetry Month with a conversation with the Poet Laureate of Kansas and recently appointed member of the National Council on the Arts, Huascar Medina. Huascar Medina is not only the state’s first Latino Poet Laureate, he’s also the first non-academic coming instead from the working class and bringing a strong and vibrant voice to Kansas poetry in the 21st century.
Born in Texas, Huascar moved to Kansas over twenty years ago. He calls himself a helianthus—who has taken root and flourished.
And his poems explore that taking root: home, separation, place, and inclusion are elements of his poetry in both his collections How to Hang the Moon and Un Mango Grows in Kansas which offers its poems in both English and Spanish. Throughout his time in Kansas, Huascar has consistently worked to extend access to the arts with a focus on emerging artists and organizations. To give you some idea of what he’s been doing-- Huascar has worked with Artist INC, he’s a member of the ArtsConnect Board, and on the advisory council of the Kansas Book Festival. He provides a platform for Kansas writers—spotlighting their work as literary editor for seventyfive magazine and as host of the radio show Kansas is Lit. He’s also a founding member of the Kansas Arts Writing Cohort. And as I mentioned, he is now a member of the National Council on the Arts which advises the Chairman of the Arts Endowment on agency policies and programs. But Huascar Medina is first and foremost a talented and committed poet—who has lived with poetry as part of his daily life since he was 11 years old. So I began my conversation with him by asking him to read the poem “When is Mango Season in Puerto Rico from his collection Un Mango Grows in Kansas
Huascar Medina: That’s a poem I wrote after having a conversation with my sister about a vacation she was going to take to Puerto Rico and we’re trying to figure out when mango season was in Puerto Rico and someone asked that question on TripAdvisor. So here’s the response we got from TripAdvisor about When is mango season in Puerto Rico?
When is Mango Season in Puerto Rico?
Somewhere in Vieques there’s always a tree with fruit; you just need local knowledge.
I’ve yet to see a mango tree in Kansas.
I buy my fruit in a Whole Foods store.
Most things here are from elsewhere.
Even my jam travels into town.
Do you know they grow a type of heaven
in an orchard in a place called Santa Cruz?
A mango spread, Non-GMO, Organic,
40 calories per tablespoon. It smells fleshy,
like roadside mangoes, dropped from a tree,
too ripe to grow, too old to save.
There was a summer in Yabucoa, where the street side,
parking lots and driveways were paved in mangoes.
We ate mango-flavored everything that summer.
The taste of mangoes will make your eyes close.
I ate my first gusano that July.
I didn’t mind. I never saw it. It was still bliss.
Fruit flies are angels born in their own kind of heaven.”
Jo Reed: I love the way you use images of food to conjure these memories of Puerto Rico
Huascar Medina: When I talk about this poem I talk about what home feels like. You know, Puerto Rico being a provider of sustenance for me, but I didn’t have to work hard there because the mangoes grew outside of my grandma’s house. You know, we had the plantain and the bananas and yucca and avocados in the backyard. We had fruit. You know, all we had to do was go pick it off the tree, so the land provided for us without additional labor, and I just felt that that’s what home felt like.
Jo Reed: Yeah. Tell me a bit about your writing practices. Do you write every day? Do you write in spurts?
Huascar Medina: In spurts. I try to write every day, but I don’t consider just putting, you know, pen to paper or typing on a laptop computer writing. I consider reading work related to the work you’re writing writing, watching a film that can influence your writing writing. I believe there’s different ways to channel that creative energy into your writing and you just have to be aware of it at all times. So the physical act of writing I do in spurts but I’m always engaged with the writing process in my day-to-day living.
Jo Reed: And I wonder, do you think things through at your desk or do you go for walks, do something outside? Because nature is, as we just heard in this poem, is prevalent in so much of your work.
Huascar Medina: I walk just a little bit at a time. Like sometimes I’ll sit and write a line and have to step away because it was really hard to get that line down. Not because the work is emotionally challenging, I just, I need a break from the work, from the line, from the phrase. I don’t write full poems in a day. I can sit on a line for a very long time, so stepping away from sitting down is really important to me. You know, I’ve done physical labor most of my life so I don’t like to sit in front of a desk. So a lot of the writing occurs before I sit down, and that’s when they come in spurts, and I’m like, “Okay. Now I have it. Now I’ve finished that line.” So a lot of the writing occurs internally before it’s ever like laid down in print.
Jo Reed: How much do you rework poems once you have them down?
Huascar Medina: I rework them until I realize that my ability to improve them has diminished to the point where I might mess up the poem. That’s when I know. Like you can only trim something so much before you take the life out of it, right, so I can’t continue to pull away from something if I’m not adding sometimes something in in the form of it, because at the end of day what I’m looking at after writing a poem is form, which is always dictated by the content.
Jo Reed: Well, I’m thinking of “Spanish Feather Stitching,” the poem that opened your first collection “How to Hang the Moon,” and also appeared slightly reworked in “Un Mango Grows in Kansas.”
Huascar Medina: Yes. I do rework work. We learn new words along the way. I like to think as we get older some of us become more precise with our language or learn new words or express ourselves. I had to include this poem in this collection. I feel it’s on the same wavelength as the other work within this, the idea of location and trying to get to a place, or leaving a place or remembering a place.
Jo Reed: I agree. Can we hear it?
Huascar Medina: Absolutely. I will definitely read that for you.
Spanish-knotted Feather Stitching.
Only Neruda can save us. I’ve written him pleas for
guidance, addressed it to the waning crystal moon, on
that red branch of the now-gone autumn in its window.
They’re cinched with threads to palomas whom refused
to wear the satchels my abuelita knitted through manos
anudado before her passing. Las palomas argued for
practicality, balance, and against my need for sentimentality:
The added weight of things makes flight onorous, they’d say.
How I wish these birds were more passenger pigeon,
less dove, willing to fight through wind and rain to get
there; okay with war and loss. I’ve even taught them to
fly in cursive, in case they didn’t make it, so others may
see the phrases passing by; before they’re shot down.
But very few people see the need for soft, round,
words, free and flowing in the air. Their grace appearing
indecisive; almost lost from below.
How they’ve pitied them. Poor palomas. I beg of you,
please take these notes to his shores, sing towards the sill
it his view; be candid, have manners. wipe the sand from
your feet before entering, bathe in his café, perch yourself
upon his finger piece.
I just have to know,
can a song of despair come before a love poem?
Jo Reed: There is so much about this poem I love, but the line I come back to over and over again is “how I wish these birds were more passenger pigeon, less dove.” <laughs> I wish that about so much in my life. It’s just- <laughs> it’s just perfect, I think.
Huascar Medina: You know, having a passive voice too long will get you passed by in many conversations, so yes, I agree.
Jo Reed: <laughs> And the question you ask at the end, “Can a song of despair come before a love poem?”
Huascar Medina: A reference to Neruda’s work. You know, moving to Kansas was difficult at first. It was a culture shock experience for me and I had to regroup for a moment, but I’ve come to love Kansas. I’ve grown here. It is home.
Jo Reed: And when did you move to Kansas and why? Where \did you come from?
Huascar Medina: That’s a wonderful story in itself. My aunt took me in when I was 13 turning 14. I ran away from home after my parents got divorced. I was away for little bit and she adopted me and thank God it was my aunt, it was family, and I moved to San Antonio, and I was in San Antonio, graduated from Southwest High School and wanted to get reacquainted with my family and my siblings. I missed them dearly, so I got on a Greyhound bus. It’s like 24 hours on a bus all the way to Topeka, Kansas, and then I had another 30, 45-minute car ride to Holton, Kansas, where my mom was living. So that’s how I ended up in Kansas, getting reacquainted with my mother and my sisters and my brother.
Jo Reed: Now your background. Your father is Puerto Rican and your mother is Panamanian. Where were you raised?
Huascar Medina: In Killeen, Texas, is where I was born, on a military base. I was raised mostly in Texas but, you know, my father being in the Army we went to Germany, been in Georgia. Wherever there was a place to train soldiers, that’s where my dad was at, because he was a drill sergeant. So Fort Bennings, one of those places.
Jo Reed: And was storytelling a big part of your upbringing kind of as a way to connect you to your parents’ heritages? Did they tell you stories about home for them?
Huascar Medina: Absolutely. My mother hasn’t seen her parents in a while and she’s very close with them but she shares stories about my grandfather regularly. Storytelling is a part of capturing culture, holding onto it, pushing it forward to the next generation. Yeah, I think of it like you put preserves in a jar and then you put them in a cupboard until you need them, right, and we have those stories in our home that we share regularly about our parents, our grandparents. I have stories I share about my mother now, stories I share about my son, so it’s a legacy of storytelling that continues and sometimes stories are the only things that keep you connected to your past.
Jo Reed: And I wonder if the seed for your appreciation for language, which you clearly have, is borne from those stories.
Huascar Medina: Absolutely. I believe that to be true. My mother, she plays guitar. My father plays guitar. They sing. They love music, and it’s always been a part of our lives. You know, the creative process has always been communal for us. It’s how our family gathers around song or stories, so I’ve been attached to words with meaning, deep meaning, with intentional meaning, for most of my life. It’s how I communicate. I mean, we talk about dreams openly-- it’s part of our day-to-day experience, me and my mother.
Jo Reed: In “Un Mango Grows in Kansas,” the poems are in Spanish and they’re in English, with some Spanish words intermingled into the English poems and also some English words intermingled into the poems in Spanish. Why the decision to present the poems in both languages?
Huascar Medina: I’ve been asked that question before and I think I want more people to be able to access the work. When I came to United States-- I just had this conversation, man, last week with Bobby LeFebre from Colorado, the Poet Laureate of Colorado. He came to Salina, Kansas, and we’re talking about how we don’t speak Spanish as well as we would want to because we came to United States when our family was like, “You gotta learn how to speak English.” So in the home we spoke English. We had to learn English because English was our way of connecting with the people around us, you know, because language is a barrier to your world, and being able to have this written in English and Spanish allowed two words to come together in one print publication.
Jo Reed: And Julie Sellers is the translator. How did you two work together?
Huascar Medina: Well, actually, I’ve known Julie for a couple years. I met her at a William Stafford celebration they held at Watkins Museum in Lawrence, Kansas, yeas ago, and I hear her read poems in Spanish, I was like, “This woman speaks better Spanish than I do.” <laughs> Like, “I need to-- <laughs> what’s her story?” and she’s written other books before about bachata music in the past and that’s how we got to know each other. We were talking about Latin music, and we’ve read in places together, so she has a sense of my tone and my voice when I read work and she was able to capture that in the poems, because I wrote them-- some of them I did write in Spanish, but most of them were English translated to Spanish.
Jo Reed: And I’m so curious about how the rhythms of the words and the language changed as they moved from English to Spanish.
Huascar Medina: There is a difference, and I’m glad that I had her to help <laughs> kind of maintain the integrity of the work throughout and not lose the essence in translation, because that can happen really easily. You know, I learned to speak Spanish. I went to school in Puerto Rico when I was 12, I believe, 12, and my Spanish was so bad but I learned a lot when I was in public school in Caguas, in Puerto Rico. I learned a lot more Spanish there. I mean, I had to. I had to learn how to get home on a bus. <laughs> It was a necessity.
Jo Reed: I would love to hear, if you don’t mind, your poem “Surrogate City,” and would you mind reading that in English and in Spanish?
Huascar Medina: Yes, I think I can do that. Apologies if I mispronounce anything. Let me find it real quick. I’ll read it in Spanish first.
La madre Kansas City
La madre KC me adoptó
ella lleva también la ropa planchada
de concreto y vidrio
me guiña para cruzar las calles
pos las sirenas en al aire
Tararea una cancion de cuna de Carretera
Del Viejo Paseo Puente
Para yo poder pasar las noches
Los horizontes no se ciudad
Ella abrazo a
La madre KC ha sido Buena conmigo
Mother KC has adopted me
she too wears ironed garments
of concrete and glass
winks at me to cross the streets
reminds me I am cared for
through sirens in the air
She hums a highway lullaby
of old Paseo Puente
so I may pass the nights
skylines don't resemble
mi vieja san ciudad
KC has been good to me.”
Jo Reed: Tell me what inspired this poem.
Huascar Medina: It’s a letter back to San Antonio to let them know I’m okay. I was at a reading in Kansas City and we’re reading outdoors. We’re downtown, and I would go to Kansas City when I first got to Kansas, because it felt like San Antonio. That’s where I was at before I came to Kansas, and it sounded like a city, it felt like a city. The energy, the speed that things were moving were a city, and I was like, “This is what it feels like to be home, like, to have someone take you in,” and Kansas City did that . I’ve found another city that’s willing to hold me close and dear.
Jo Reed: Home is so important. It’s important in your poems. As you said, location, place, just echoes throughout your work.
Huascar Medina: It’s very important. I moved around quite a bit growing up. I don’t think I lived anywhere more than three years since I was a child. Kansas I’ve lived half my life now. I’ve been in Kansas since the age of 18. You know, I tell people sometimes, it’s like, you know, “I’m a different kind of Kansan.” You know, I’m a sunflower, I’m a helianthus. I planted a seed here, my roots grew here and then I grew and blossomed in Kansas. So this is home, this is fertile soil for me.
Jo Reed: What I like so much about this collection is your ability to pull back and look at big issues like immigration, for example, which you write about, the othering of Hispanics that often happens in the U.S., and tie that to the everyday. There’s so much in your poetry about ordinary life.
Huascar Medina: Well, I write for every day, ordinary people so they can have extraordinary moments of truth and empathy. That’s what my writing is geared towards. So I want to have conversations through poetry. I want to have those hard talks in soft ways with poetry at the center.
Jo Reed: Yes, Clearly, I get the sense you’re writing to and for working people.
Huascar Medina: Yes, absolutely.
Jo Reed: Nobody gets rich writing poetry. Let’s stick that card on the table right now.
Huascar Medina: <laughs> Absolutely.
Jo Reed: Are you able to just focus on poetry or do you also have a day job?
Huascar Medina: You know, I just recently decided to just do freelance work full-time. It is a decision I made in January this past year. I was writing as much as I was working and I was working at a hotel. Like, I’ve always done blue-collar work most of my life. Like, I worked in warehouses, built houses, did concrete work, been a contractor. I’ve worked with my hands most of my life and, you know, when I became Poet Laureate for the state of Kansas, I was shoveling trash into a dumpster. I don’t come from an academic background when it comes to poetry. It’s something very personal, very deep to me, not to say that it isn’t for those who go and study it, but I’ve had a conversation for a very long time with poetry. It’s never been about money. I recently listened to an interview with Mary Oliver talking about, you know, she wrote in nature and walking in the woods and she was also out there getting fish and berries to eat. That’s level of poverty she was experiencing when she was writing some of her most important work that we consider canon now.
Jo Reed: That’s where I was going was talking about you as Poet Laureate of Kansas. You were named Poet Laureate in 2019, and as you say, you’re not an academic. You’re working-class. This is not your typical pick. How did the Kansas Humanities Council define the role? What were their expectations for you as Poet Laureate?
Huascar Medina: Oh. The mission statement at the time was the movement of ideas. So I brought an idea to the table about what it’s like to be second-generation in Kansas, what it’s like to try to find identity in a location that doesn’t always feel welcoming. You know, how do you blur those manmade boundaries between states, between nations and countries? That was the idea I was bringing to the table to discuss, to share across the state of Kansas.
Jo Reed: And then COVID hit.
Jo Reed: And you obviously had to pivot. How did you adjust? What gears did you have to switch? There were many, I’m sure.
Huascar Medina: There were many. I started a community radio show called “Kansas Is Lit’, and I was interviewing poets for a while and getting them to share their work because they weren’t able to tour anymore, so we provided a platform for them. I started calling myself the first virtual Poet Laureate of Kansas. I was able to Zoom event twice, three times a day, which I think is one of the advantages of doing things online. The only issues I had with that is like if someone doesn’t have the bandwidth, right, they can’t really tune in the same way. As long as you had internet you can be part of a Poet Laureate presentation, so I was able to do that and I had a lot more events during COVID online. You know, I could have two in a day. Rather than traveling, let’s say, four or five hours out to Dodge City and then having to wait the following weekend to have another event because it’s three hours in another direction, I can have those two events in the same day.
Jo Reed: I wonder if there-- if that kind of outreach that you could do because you were doing things virtually, are you-- do you see the utility in keeping any part of that as we’re opened up now, you know, people are mingling more, there are readings again. Do you see a way of incorporating virtual meetings into real live discussions as well?
Huascar Medina: I think hybrid experiences are the way things should be done now, just moving forward, just in case something else goes awry along the way, you know, with us opening back up. We have to be prepared. We shouldn’t have to make such a hard pivot. You know, technology is a big part of the way that we share art now, especially coming out of the pandemic. So opening back up, yes. Is there a different experience sitting in an open venue with a poet, sharing their work? Yes. That will always be magical. There will always be awe attached to that, but their accessibility still creates connection even in a digital format. So I believe it’s necessary to have both present and accounted for.
Jo Reed: One program you created was Exquisite Kansas. Can you describe that program?
Huascar Medina: Oh, Exquisite Kansas. So Exquisite Kansas is a writing exercise I did when I was actually touring Kansas before the pandemic, and my goal was to collect as many collectively written poems as possible. They’re all available online at 150kansaspoems.wordpress.com. The website now is called The Coop: A Poetry Cooperative, and it’s a site dedicated to Kansas poetry. I was a guest editor a couple years ago back and decided to publish my Exquisite Kansas poems on the site so people could have access to them and, you know, during that time of isolation it felt like it brought people together, because the poems are collectively written, you know, and it’s called Exquisite Kansas from the term exquisite corpse, and that’s, of course, a method to which you collect words or images collectively and assemble them. So I collected these poems as I traveled through Kansas, one line per person at readings and open mics and workshops across the state, and the title of each poem is a location, date and, you know, sometimes the event where they were written, and it’s interesting because I would just give a prompt. I would ask a question and pass a pen with a notebook around and people would just add one line and they could only read the line before, nothing else.
Jo Reed: Wow.
Huascar Medina: I was with middle schoolers, high schoolers, library readings, universities, and they all had something to say. You know, poetry doesn’t belong to any group in particular. It’s for everyone, and I think that’s what I really experienced doing Exquisite Kansas, and that there’s a lot of good, young writers out there waiting for their turn.
Jo Reed: Will you read one of those?
Huascar Medina: Yeah, let me try to pull one up real quick. I think the one I want to share right now is from a group of middle school kids in Topeka, Kansas, and the teacher that invited me to the classroom was Tai Amri Spann-Ryan, and he’s also a poet, and the school is Robinson Middle School, and the poem was written November 15th of 2019. It’s in two parts, and these are seventh graders, I believe.
I always want to be
the best I can be
but sometimes it’s hard
to always stay positive
& to keep your head up
to always think about wonderful things
Life is different for everyone
maybe we can sit under the stars
& think about how we are
all special in this world
cool & brave
My life is awesome & cool everyday
I want to be safe wherever I go
there will be a show
that I go to & roar
I go to an orchard
One day I will find
one soul that will join me
Join me on the road
lighten up the soul
with a smile that is
I will find flowers
Jo Reed: That is a collectively written poem?
Huascar Medina: Yes, they all are.
Jo Reed: Oh, my God. That’s amazing. That’s amazing.
Huascar Medina: We create these containers where anything can be said as long as it’s sincere and authentic and true. It’s a space of expression, and I’m very vulnerable in these spaces. To ask of someone else, I must be willing to give as well, and I’ve always operated that way as much as possible. No one’s, you know, no one’s perfect, but yeah, I love that they trust me with their words. That’s very important.
Jo Reed: That brought tears to my eyes. That’s a great program.
Huascar Medina: I’ll be touring again this year, so I’ll be adding to this list of poems. You know, to think that this started in 2019 and it’s 2022 now, it’s kind of incredible to think about that. I’m going to have a nice list of poems together to share.
Jo Reed: We will have the link in our show notes so people can go and visit.
Huascar Medina: Thank you.
Jo Reed: Oh, sure. You know, this has been a time of pandemic, of an overdue racial reckoning, of people at the borders trying desperately to enter the country, and of people not being able to listen to one another, and I wonder how you think poetry can be key, be helpful, in opening up difficult conversations?
Huascar Medina: I think I touched on that a little bit earlier when I said that poetry allows us to share hard truths in soft ways. It is when we speak through a creative process or through art it gives us grace in conversation and it can lead to, if we’re expressing ourselves authentically, to a moment of empathy with another person, which I think is the highest form of understanding.
Jo Reed: Well, art demands empathy, doesn’t it?
Huascar Medina: Absolutely.
Jo Reed: You know, you begin “Spanish Feather Stitching” with the line “Only Neruda can save us.” Can Neruda save us? Can poetry save us?
Huascar Medina: That’s a lot to ask of poetry, but poetry can give us hope, and hope along the way can save us. Without hope, I think things would be a lot more dim and dark. Without poetry I think there’d be a lot less light in the world. I think there would be a lot less truth in the world and a lot less emotion in the world.
Jo Reed: You are now a member of the National Council on the Arts. Can you describe the work of the council?
Huascar Medina: You know, we advise the Chair of the NEA, and I’m excited to be a part of that process. When I was asked why I accepted the opportunity to join the council I said, “I wanted to be in a room where it happens.” That’s... I don’t have any other way to express it. I want to know what programs are being run and where and get an insight glimpse, because the work I do with individuals and organizations are in local art agencies and some state arts agencies and regional art agencies. I’m grassroots. Like, I’m on the ground working with individuals day by day, so the insight I want to bring is that, is like, “This is how these decisions affect us at the local art agency level.”
Jo Reed: And have you found the National Endowment for the Arts to be helpful to artists working on the ground on the grassroots level?
Huascar Medina: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think of a program in Kansas City, Art As Mentorship, who got their first NEA grant here recently, and they’re a Kansas-based nonprofit founded by Enrique Chi, and members of the band Making Movies, and their mission’s to empower young people through music to write their own success stories, and they created a lab, and it’s the first recording studio in the KC Metro area that’s specific sole purpose of teaching professional music industry skills to underserved young artists. So yes, it’s reaching the kid who wants to be a musician. I volunteer with that organization right now, and these are working artists helping the next generation of artists come up and teaching them skills that they can use not just creatively but in their day-to-day lives, so there is an impact and it’s reaching the grassroots organizations like Art As Mentorship in Kansas City. So I’m very aware of that happening, especially in the cities that I’m in.
Jo Reed: More generally, why do you think it’s significant that there is a National Endowment for the Arts?
Huascar Medina: Art funding is important. You know, sometimes the term that this is just an organization for artists, but no, the arts can infiltrate other agencies. As someone that works with the state, I try to take poetry into the hospitals. I try to take it into a youth correction center. I try to take poetry into a facility for individuals who are getting help with mental health, addiction centers. There are many places art can go and the NEA is leading that way right now. They’re building these programs. You know, they have professionals in place who can administer these programs correctly. There’s science and data behind it and the NEA is the one that’s putting that together, so it’s absolutely necessary that we have that information, that we collect that data, that we show that the work matters that it has an impact and there has to be someone to advocate for that, not just for the programs but for the artists themselves.
Jo Reed: Okay. And as we’re closing out, I would like to end as you ended your book, with the poem, “Un Mango Grows in Kansas.”
Huascar Medina: Absolutely.
Jo Reed: Okay. Let’s hear the poem.
Un Mango Grows in Kansas.
You have found me
hidden in a wheat field
within a husk of corn
growing for you.
I am ready
Hold me in your hands
remove my skin
peel away my color
find that I am tender
soft and sweet
Eat of me
until there is nothing
and your mouths are empty
and your bellies filled
What is left
and less bitter
Jo Reed: I love the imagery in this poem. It’s a great way to end the book, and my final question is Huascar, who are three poets whose work you think you would just like us to know more about or perhaps become reacquainted with?
Huascar Medina: Oh, you asked the right person living in Kansas, because I write constantly about Kansas poets, and sometimes we don’t get the recognition we deserve. So here we are. Here’s a moment. I would recommend Traci Brimhall, who teaches at K-State. Her last book “Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod,” is a great collection of work. Megan Kaminski. She teaches at KU, her book is “Gentlewomen,” and then Michael Kleber-Diggs, who has ties to Kansas. Wichita, I believe, but he’s in Minnesota now. His book “Worldly Things” is absolutely amazing.
Jo Reed: Okay. And I think that’s a good place to leave it. Huascar, thank you so much for giving me your time. Thank you for your work in Kansas and for being on the National Council on the Arts.
Huascar Medina: Thank you.
Jo Reed: That is poet and member of the National Council on the Arts, Huascar Medina. His Latest collection of poems is Un Mango Grows in Kansas. You can keep up with him at HuascarMedina.com . We’ll provide links to the poets he mentioned in the show notes. You’ve been listening to Art Works produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. Follow us on Apple Podcasts or Google Play and leave us a rating, it helps people to find us. For the National Endowment for the Arts, I’m Josephine Reed, stay safe and thanks for listening
This week, we're speaking with the first Latino and non-academic Poet Laureate of Kansas Huascar Medina. Medina, who is a member of the National Council on the Arts, brings a strong and vibrant voice to poetry with work that explore home, separation, place, and inclusion, and with his advocacy for grassroots artists. In this podcast, Medina reads from his recent collection Un Mango Grows in Kansas a bilingual celebration with poetry presented in both English and Spanish. He discusses making Kansas his home as a Latino, his dedication to writing poetry to and for ordinary people, his advocacy for local arts and artists, his work as Poet Laureate of Kansas (including the program "Exquisite Kansas"), and his thoughts about the Arts Endowment's significance for artists and arts organizations on the grassroots level.