Poems on life’s ‘Boundary’

Updated: 2014-01-19T02:12:31Z


The Kansas City Star

After living for years in Mexico, California and the Caribbean, Janet Sunderland found herself back “at the boundary” in 1999.

That was at the family farm in Marshall County, Kan., on the Kansas-Nebraska line, 60 miles north of Manhattan.

Many times she crossed that border after the day her mother, riding in Sunderland’s car in her mid-80s, announced after a big sigh that it was time for her to go to the “Good Sam.”

That was the Good Samaritan Society care center in Wymore, Neb.

Sunderland’s mother, Jeanette Brucker, died there in 2001. The poems in Sunderland’s chapbook, “At the Boundary,” invoke that moment, as well as the days she visited her mother and ran the farm.

“There was a lot of poetry generated driving from Overland Park to Wymore,” said Sunderland, who now lives in Kansas City.

“I am a ‘see-far’ woman. I still don’t wear glasses for long distances. The boundary is about my mother dying, but it’s also about me really being anchored in this part of the world now.”

Sunderland will read at 7 p.m. Friday at the Uptown Arts Bar, 3611 Broadway. She will be joined by other staff members of Kansas City Voices, a magazine published by Whispering Prairie Press, a nonprofit on whose board Sunderland serves.

For info about “At the Boundary,” go to

Looking for Bird

Writing a biography of one of Kansas City’s most iconic figures, saxophonist Charlie Parker, means recovering the actual man from the myth.

Chuck Haddix did that.

The Kansas City author of “Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker” spent years retrieving evidence hidden in plain sight — or, rather, available in area archives. Other scholars had not sought out such materials, Haddix said.

“Parker only lived to be 34, but he lived his first 21 years in Kansas City,” Haddix said.

Scrolling through microfilm of The Call, a Kansas City African-American weekly, yielded many references to performances by bands that included Parker.

“There’s this idea that Charlie Parker wasn’t appreciated in his hometown,” Haddix said. The records suggested otherwise. Papers of the African American Musicians Protective Union, Local 627, noted the October 1935 day when Parker joined at age 15.

Haddix speaks at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

For more info, go to

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to

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