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Wilderness, solitude have helped build foundation of visiting poet's work

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel’s Department of Literary Studies will pitch in to celebrations of Earth Day a little early by hosting a poetry reading outdoors April 20.

The Bethel College Visiting Writers Series presents Sam Taylor, a poet and the director of the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program in creative writing at Wichita State University, where he is a professor of creative writing and teaches workshops and courses in poetic craft, modern and contemporary poetics and ecology.

As a poet and “word-based artist,” Taylor ranges from traditional and experimental poem-making to work that joins poetic craft with contemporary art.

He is the author of Nude Descending an Empire (Pitt Poetry Series, 2014) and Body of the World (Ausable Press/Copper Canyon Press, 2006), and received the 2014-15 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship.

Taylor’s work frequently explores themes of mysticism, social justice, ecology, sexuality, suffering and the mystery of the world. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, AGNI and The Kenyon Review, among others.

Besides the Amy Lowell Scholarship, his work has been recognized with residencies at the Corporation of Yaddo, Djerassi, the Studios at Key West, the Vermont Studio Center, the Brush Creek Arts Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Santa Fe Art Institute, as well as with the Dobie Paisano Fellowship and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize.

A native of Miami, Taylor has lived in Texas, Virginia, California, Pennsylvania and New Mexico in addition to Kansas.

While in New Mexico, he served for three years as caretaker of a remote wilderness refuge that was snowed in during the winter without phone, electricity or internet. He cites this experience of “living so long apart from all the meanings people have created” as an essential foundation of his work.

Taylor will read his work at 6 p.m. April 20 on the Prairie Sky Stage at Bethel, the outdoor stage near Luyken Fine Arts Center, facing Schultz Student Center.

April 20 is “Third Thursday,” so there are a number of special events happening that evening in Newton and North Newton, including Earth Day activities on the Green organized by Bethel’s Environmental Action Club.

Refreshments will be provided by the Student Activities Council.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016'17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.