Overland Park, KS – An international team of filmmakers and Kansas publishers is inviting all Kansans to participate in a statewide essay contest to describe the influence of poetry on their lives.
Participants in the contest, called Poetry Unites Kansas, are invited to explain in 600 words why their favorite poem is important to them. Submissions will be judged by a jury of five nationally known poets and writers, and winners will be individually featured in short documentary films that will be screened in Kansas City and New York City later this year.
“The contest is open to everyone, and is designed to show the role that poetry plays in our state,” said Eric McHenry, the current Poet Laureate of Kansas, who is on the contest jury. “Are you a Kansan with a favorite poem? Something you say to yourself on difficult days? Words that speak to you so profoundly they seem to be speaking for you? We want you to share that poem, and your love of it.”
Poetry Unites Kansas is the latest project of an international team of award-winning editors and filmmakers who pioneered similar installments of the highly successful Poetry Unites series over the past decade in Europe and in New York State.
Conceived and directed by Ewa Zadrzynska, a Polish-born writer and filmmaker, the series has won international acclaim for its intimate portraits of the influence that poetry has upon everyday lives throughout the world.
The program is being brought to Kansas and funded by Uhlig LLC, an Overland Park-based company (www.uhlig.com) that specializes in advanced, cross-media publishing. It is co-sponsored by the Kansas Poet Laureate, the Kansas Humanities Council and the Kansas Press Association.
“I’m certain that every single Kansan has a poem or piece of writing that means something special to them,” said Mark A. Uhlig, chief executive officer of Uhlig LLC. “This contest is not primarily designed to promote poetry, but to reveal the power and value that it already has in our everyday lives.”
Contest essays can be in any style or form, but the poem described should be by a published poet, and the essay should touch upon three topics: 1) What is your favorite poem, who wrote it and when did you first read it? 2) Why is this poem important to you? and 3) What does your day look like, what are your dreams, and what do you expect from life?
Essays will be reviewed by a jury that includes acclaimed poet and critic Edward Hirsch; Kansas Poet Laureate Eric McHenry; bestselling author and historian Candice Millard; author and former Kansas City Star editor Steve Paul; New York-based writer and journalist Nina Darnton; and Ms. Zadrzynska.
Instructions for submissions can be found at the Poetry Unites website, www.poetryunites.com.
The deadline for submissions is April 28, 2017, and winners will be notified by May 31, 2017.