Free lunch and poetry by Poet Laureate of Kansas, Kevin Rabas, what could be better? Nothing. The Kansas Humanities Council brought Rabas to Seward County. He gave a presentation on April 27 at the SCCC library. Students and staff were presented with insight into Rabas’ life as well as poetry.
Rabas is a poet, jazz musician and also teaches poetry and playwright at Emporia State University. Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary was Rabas presentation. Rabas mentioned that he started when he was around the ages 6, 7, 8: “My mother was a journalist and she used to swing a tape recorder around my neck and I would interview people when we would go out.”
Yesenia Soto Kevin Rabas, Poet Laureate of Kansas, read various poems and was able to come to SCCC with the help of Humanities Kansas. Rabas is also an instructor at Fort Hays University and says he finds inspiration for his poems in different parts of Hays, Kansas.
Throughout his presentation he read several poems which were by other authors and himself. “We put our trust in ordinary things.. We observe and honor this world, including its many ordinary things” Rabas said. Rabas plans to bring poetry to as many people as he can.
As a jazz musician, Rabas also did some musical poetry where he played the drums and read a poem.
To end the presentation there was a Question and Answer portion. During this time Rabas gave some tips on how to start writing poetry. He encouraged others to read works by contemporary living poets. He explained that reading their works would provide a greater understanding of what people are interested in.
Poetry Coffee House took place later that evening. Rabas was the judge for the Open and Scholarship categories for the poetry contest. Some of the staff and students who won and had honorable mention read their poems to the audience.
Michelle Mattich, SCCC student, took first place in the Open category and also won Best SCCC Student Poem for her poem “Mexican.” When going up to read Mattich mentioned that she was nervous, “When I got up there my voice was shaking, but then once I started reading the poem it went away and everything felt natural.”
Mattich is proud to be a Mexican and a writer. Although her inspiration for the poem was to meet the deadline for her class, she mentioned that her inspiration also came from herself and her family.
“I’ve felt that Mexicans haven’t had a good light shined on them and I wanted to share a piece of myself and my family to show that Mexicans are like everyone else and that everyone some way or another could relate to my poem. You don’t have to be Mexican to relate” Mattich said.
Following Mattich in the Open category was Rachel Coleman in second place for her poem “Raw Honey” and Noemi Rodriguez in third place for her poem “Home.”
For the Scholarship category Adan Gutierrez from Satanta High School won first place for his poem “How Far Does a T- Shirt Stretch.” In second place was “Dear Dad” by Satanta student Leslie Caberea and in third place was “High School Relationship” by Satanta student Brittani Lauppe.
In the new category, Young Poets, all three places were also won by Satanta students. In first place was “The Sun” by Jody Zimmerman. Following in second place was “My Story” by Jaylon Essix, and in third place “Time” by Sami Small.
“I felt shocked to have won, because I heard the other contestants poems and I thought they were amazing. I felt that winning meant I got the message across and everyone had a good time listening to it” Mattich said.