Missouri Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner performs at Prospero’s April 16 with Frank Higgins

woman speaks at a podium

Maryfrances Wagner reads her poetry at the State Capitol. // Courtesy photo Missouri
Arts Council

April is National Poetry Month, and Prospero’s Books and Spartan Press are celebrating by presenting a reading event April 16 from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. with Missouri Poet Laureate Maryfrances Wagner and local poet, playwright, and professor Frank Higgins. Live music will also be provided by Chris Hudson of Gully Washer.

Wagner is wrapping up her two-year term as Poet Laureate and has marked her tenure with several projects, most recently, her Missouri Haiku Project. She will co-host the release of award-winning playwright Frank Higgins’ second haiku book on Earth as it is… (Spartan Press, 2023). Wagner featured Higgins’ poems “Navajo Land” and “Vietnam” as a part of her 18-poet Tiny Books series.book cover

Frank Higgins is a member of the Haiku Society of America. on Earth as it is… is Higgins’ fourth book of poetry and his second collection of haiku. He has taught playwriting at UMKC Conservatory for over 20 years and is the author of a number of plays, including Black Pearl Sings!, one of the most professionally produced plays in America, and The Sweet By‘n’By, produced with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. His The True Death of Socrates is included in the Best American Short Plays series and scenes from his Gunplay: A Play About America were read on Capitol Hill prior to Congress passing the Brady Bill. His play The Country of the Blind was produced in Kansas City last month at the Spinning Tree Theatre, and his new play Any Questions will be produced in Columbia, MO, later this year.

A retired Raytown High teacher, Maryfrances Wagner is the 6th Missouri Poet Laureate and the first writer selected as Individual Artist of the Year by the Missouri Arts Council. As Laureate, she has been active with four projects: the Tiny Book series, The Literary State Podcasts, two anthologies featuring Missouri poets, and her current Missouri Haiku Project. She has published ten collections of poetry, including The Silence of Red Glass, (Bob Woodley Memorial Press), The Immigrants’ New Camera, and Solving for X (Spartan Press). Her newly reissued book Red Silk (BkMk) won the Thorpe Menn Book Award. She co-edits I-70 Review and is president of The Writers Place board. She and her husband, Greg Field, are co-founders of the Crystal Field Scholarship for creative writing at UMKC.

Spartan Press has published over 350 books of poetry, memoir, essay, and fiction, including multiple present and past Missouri and Kansas poet laureates. Over 50,000 books, vinyl, CDs, and movies from its historic, three-story, midtown building, Prospero’s Books recently celebrated 25 years of indie bookselling.

The April 16 reading event at Prospero’s is free and open to the public.

Categories: A&E