Poetry News

Rest in Peace, Michelle Boisseau

By Harriet Staff
Michelle Boisseau

We're saddened to learn that acclaimed Kansas City poet Michelle Boisseau passed away yesterday at the age of 62. The cause of death was lung cancer. The author of five books of poetry, Boisseau was an important figure in Kansas City's poetry circles and across the United States; she joined the faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1995. At KCUR, C.J. Janovy writes: "her advice to 'just keep doing it' will resonate through the work of the students she taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (where she had been on the faculty since 1995), aspiring poets who read the textbook she helped write ('Writing Poems'), other writers whose work she improved as associate editor of UMKC's BkMk Press, and poetry readers across the globe." Let's pick up there: 

"'Writing Poems' was the first textbook I used when I first started teaching poetry many, many years ago, long before I ever knew Michelle," says Hadara Bar-Nadav, Boisseau's colleague on the faculty at UMKC. "It was the best textbook on writing poetry out there — insightful, inspiring, challenging, practical, and user-friendly, which is super important for students who are early in their writing careers."

Boisseau's writing about poems by Shakespeare, William Carlos Williams, and Whitman is "exquisite and even visionary," says Bar-Nadav, who would go on to co-author the book's 8th edition.

"'Writing Poems' is still a best-selling poetry textbook, and I'm honored I had the chance to work with Michelle," she says.

"Michelle had a brilliant mind, always fired up about language and science and the world and how we reveal ourselves in words. She was always a great and faithful friend," says Steve Paul, a writer, retired journalist and longtime book critic. "I think it's hugely poignant that her most recent book, 'Among the Gorgons,' navigates us through this landscape of death that we are now experiencing so intimately."

Read more at KCUR.

Originally Published: November 16th, 2017