Arlin Buyert of Leawood visits his poets once a week at the Lansing Correctional Facility.
For several years he has coordinated a poetry program for inmates, and the spring session began recently. Buyert meets with about 10 inmates every Thursday night. One textbook is “The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets,” by Ted Kooser, a former U.S. poet laureate.
“I refer to them as poets,” Buyert said of his students.
“They are not college graduates and they are not English majors. But they will learn what a gerund is, or a simile, and then learn how to perhaps incorporate those in their writing. Plus, Kooser’s language is very direct.
“I love poetry, so it’s very rewarding to see them develop a love for it, too.”
Educated at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, and also a former Navy pilot, Buyert began writing and publishing poetry on the advice of a therapist after his first wife died eight years ago following a long illness.
The prison poetry workshops, Buyert said, are therapeutic for the inmates, too.
Late last year, Arts in Prison — the Overland Park organization that coordinates choral, writing and other programs for those incarcerated across the region — published the latest edition of Lansing inmate poetry, titled “Open to the Sky, Vol. 2.”
Buyert gave copies to his poets recently. Seeing their words in print in a bound volume had a powerful effect on them.
“One of them said to me ‘(Expletive) Arlin, I never believed I would be an (expletive) poet.’ For them to be published, it’s overwhelming.”
To obtain a copy of “Open to the Sky, Vol. 2,” email Buyert at firstname.lastname@example.org. A small donation to Arts in Prison would be appreciated, Buyert said.
Denise Low, poet laureate of Kansas from 2007 to 2009, will read at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Oak Park Library, 9500 Bluejacket St., in Overland Park. The event, part of the Thomas Zvi Wilson Reading Series, also will feature Minnesota poet Kathryn Kysar.
For the first time in the Kansas City area, Low read verse from her 2014 book, “Mélange Block,” now in its third printing.
“In the poetry world, that’s a best-seller,” Low said. “But I haven’t gone shopping for my Mercedes-Benz yet.”