Poetry in the State Library Stacks

Jul 12, 2017

A government documents library is perhaps the last place you’d look for creative writing. Still, we found poetry in the stacks here at the Wyoming State Library.

In years past, the Wyoming Council on the Arts (now the Wyoming Arts Council) published anthologies of poems, stories, and art by Wyoming K-12 students. Since these were published by a state agency, and the WSL is the official repository for state documents, these found their way into our collection. On the shelves, we found titles such as A Weave of Poems, published in 1980, Sun, Snow, Rain You Name It, published in 1983, and Moon Crayons, published in 1989.

We located two of the then-young poets who contributed to these anthologies to find out where they were, whether they were still writing, and to ask their permission to republish their poems.

Michael Kelly and family

In the earth as I tunnel through the dirt
I think of my brother
caught by a boy and used for fishing
and my mother put in bread by a crazy-person, and all my friends
some eaten by birds, all gone.

Michael Kelly, Grade 3, Pinedale Elementary
 Sun, Snow, Rain You Name It, 1983

Michael Kelly remembers being proud that his poem was selected, but not much else about the circumstances of its writing. “Perhaps it was about that time that I regularly annoyed my family by reading interminably at full voice from Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.”  He works in Washington D.C. now and works as a federal government attorney. He writes only the most occasional poem now, “but about half of my work is analytical and persuasive writing.” Kelly has a degree from Pinedale High School, and Cornell and Georgetown Universities. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, two daughters, and one cat. “Our garden is full of happy worms,” he added.

Jansen Siplon-Curry

A Unicorn
A unicorn is a unicorn
when it has a horn
But when a unicorn
doesn’t have a horn
it is a horse

Jansen Siplon, Grade 1, Casper
Moon Crayons, 1989

Jansen Siplon-Curry published her first novel, Seeing Ione, in 2015 and writes regularly at her blog, The Tall Mom. She included “A Unicorn” when she submitted a book of about a dozen poems for the Young Authors competition in 1988. That collection won locally, at state and in national competition. “I was encouraged to enter by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Gronski,” she said. “I was blessed with amazing teachers in elementary.”

While she knew she had an aptitude for reading and language, she was intrigued by science and always thought she’d have a career in the medical field. She continued to dabble in poetry secretly in her journals, but didn’t really purse writing as an interest until after she’d become a parent and found writing — and reading — helped her process her experiences. “It’s funny,” she said “I’ve read it’s those things we excel at earliest in life that tell us most about our gifts and passions. I certainly feel that way about writing.”

These days she mostly wrangles her three children. She works for St. Anthony Tri-Parish Catholic School as their Event Coordinator, organizing and executing fundraisers, working on retaining and recruitment, and writing the school’s alumni publication, The Antonian. She also serves on the Natrona County Public Library Foundation Board.

“Writing continues to be something I long to do more of,” she said, “and fear I will never truly learn how to do well.”

If you have a question about this or any other article, please contact us at statelibrary@wyo.gov

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