PRAIRIE RHYTHMS: LIFE AND POETRY OF MAY WILLIAMS WARD, $16, paper bound, 136 pp., 39 illustrations (photographs and prints by Ward), ISBN: 978-0-9845912-2-0. 2010. Author Lana Myers blends biography, history and poetry in her book Prairie Rhythms: The Life and Poetry of May Williams Ward recently published by Mammoth Publications. In the Foreword, Denise Low calls the book “an invaluable addition to literature and history of the Midwest region, especially Kansas.” During a literary career that began in 1921 and lasted 50 years, nationally acclaimed poet May Williams Ward produced over 2,000 poems and seven books. Her creativity extended beyond written words to the designing of block prints to illustrate the rhythms in her poems. Prairie Rhythms contains 39 block prints and photographs, richly enhancing the text.William Allen White referred to Ward as “the champion poet of Kansas” in 1930, writing in his Emporia Gazette, “She excels because she is of the prairie. She takes her music out of the environment, winds, birds, the rhythm of the windmill, the Kansas scene.” Ward’s life story provides colorful glimpses of the past, including campus life at the University of Kansas circa 1900 as well as memorable encounters with temperance crusader Carry Nation, politician and Scopes trial lawyer William Jennings Bryan, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Edwin Arlington Robinson, Stephen Vincent Benet and Sara Teasdale. Readers will travel with her through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, plus World Wars I and II.
Lana Wirt Myers was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, but crossed the state line to attend the University of Kansas and has remained in Kansas ever since. After completing a degree in history at Wichita State University, she juggled the responsibilities of raising a son and working.
Myers has been a part-time freelance writer for over 30 years, including seven years as a weekly newspaper columnist. Her published works include numerous newspaper and magazine articles as well as a book entitled Newton Medical Center: Merging the Past with the Future printed in 2006. Her very first article published was about May Williams Ward, appearing in Heritage of the Great Plains literary magazine in 1980. Myers has lived in Newton, Kansas, for the past 34 years with her husband, Bob.
“This book captures the essence of a Kansas poet who captured the essence of Kansas.” —Thomas Fox Averill Writer-in-residence, Washburn University
“Myers is to be praised for opening the gates of the archives and letting Ward’s energy loose in the world once again.” —Anita Skeen Director of the Center for Poetry, Michigan State University