News, Awards & Press

BkMk Press & New Letters at AWP

Thursday, April 9, 2015

We're headed to AWP 2015 and we've got some great events lined up, including author signings, book discussions, and a literary showdown. View a full list of events here, and don't forget to come visit us at the bookfair, booth #1608.

IN MEMORIAM James McKinley

Saturday, April 4, 2015

James McKinley, editor of New Letters (1985-2002) and BkMk Press (1995-2002) passed away on Saturday, March 28, 2015, at age 79.  Family, friends, and colleagues from New Letters and BkMk Press will gather to pay tribute to a grand fellow, friend, writer, and brilliant editor, at The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, KCMO. 

Read James McKinley’s memoir-essay from a recent New Letters. 

Time: 3:00 p.m. Service at 3:30 p.m. 

Location: Kansas City, Mo., 3607 Pennsylvania Ave.

Contact: (816) 235-1168 New Letters 


Listen to past New Letters on the Air interviews with James McKinley, from 1977 and 1981, in our Audio Archives.

Jazz at Diastole, Tues., Nov. 11, 2014, 2:30--a benefit

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Benefit for UMKC’s New Letters Magazine, BkMk Press Books, New Letters on the Air & The Retirees Association

Jazz at Diastole: 2:30 p.m., Tues., Nov. 11, 2014, at Diastole Scholars Center, 2501 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo.

Jazz performances by: David Basse, Bob Bowman (leader), Peter Schlamb, Steve Lambert. Words by Dan “All-Cats-Turn-Gray” Jaffe.

The Retirees Association of UMKC joins with great Kansas City jazz performers—national names in music—and UMKC’s international literary magazine, press, and radio series.  Refreshments.

Students $5 and others $10 at the door.  No rsvp needed.  For information: (816) 235-1168 or

Join us.  Afternoon Time Is The Right Time. 


An Exhibition of Art From New Letters

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Artist Carol Zastoupil, featured artist in the winter 2014 edition of New Letters, will present a solo exhibition at Steeple of Light Art Gallery, Detials here. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

by Robert Stewart

I commemorate, here, a great man and a great friend, Bill Hickok, who died in Los Angeles on Monday, July 21, 2014.  Bill was, indeed, cousin to the famous Wild Bill, but our Bill worked in business most of his life and ran a foundation to support the arts, the N. W. Dible Foundation.  In 1977, he co-founded, with his wife, the poet Gloria Vando, the community-based literary organization The Writers Place, in midtown Kansas City, which thrives today due much to Bill’s philanthropy. 

Bill Hickok’s tough business acumen formed a counterbalance to his playful intelligence.  He began writing humor several years ago, “as a defense,” he would say, “against his children’s tyranny.” His articles have appeared widely in newspapers and literary magazines across the country.   

Bill’s book of poems, The Woman Who Shot Me, came out from Whirlybird Press in 2011.  “This late-life collection,” writes California Poet Laureate Al Young, “shines like a golden retriever.”  If you knew Bill, that was high praise. 

“No one writes like Bill Hickok. No one,” writes the estimable Jo McDougall.  “Read him: you’ll be enriched and wounded.”   

In one recent poem, Bill wrote, “I am thinking without mind.  I cry without tears.”  Bill had no use for wasted words or wasted time. 

Many years ago, I saw this approach in action at a reading given by one of this country’s most famous poets, held at the Kansas City Art Institute.  The lesson I learned, then, came not from the visiting poet but from someone in the audience.  The room was packed, and I was standing along a side wall, suffering from what had to be the most tedious and dull poetry reading ever to come to Kansas City.  I won’t mention the famous poet.  About half way through, I noticed something move behind me, at floor level.  There was a man in a suit, crawling on his hands and knees.  This turned out to be more interesting than the reading, so I watched, as the man crawled along the floor behind the legs of the audience and out the back door.  Guess who.

I have always thought that to be the single greatest act of literary criticism I have ever witnessed.  Bill wrote, and held us all, to his own high standard: Don’t be dull. 

Bill Hickok was an ornithologist, wildlife photographer, environmentalist, founder of the Kansas Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, a founder of Kansas City’s first hospice; he supported Midwest Poets Series and served as chair and board member for 10 years of Johnson County Parks and Recreation.  In recent years he served on the board of Beyond Baroque, a literary center in Venice, Calif. 

In the opening year of The Writers Place, special guest William Burroughs, who then lived in Lawrence, Kansas, about 30 miles away, called Bill to say he refused to travel on the icy roads to appear that day.  Bill paced a bit and called Burroughs back.  “Look out your front door in half an hour,” I heard Bill say.  “You will see a limo that will take you safely here and safely home.”  Burroughs complied, and Bill said to me, later, with a glass of red in his hand, “Burroughs was going to be here.  I was going to see to it.”  Bill was like that, tough, no nonsense, sweet, generous, and funny.

No words such as these can retrieve that life, but take my word:  He raised us all in spirit and joy. 


Christian Barter on New Letters on the Air

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hear Christian Barter interviewed by Angela Elam on New Letters on the Air at

Barter's book In Someone Else's House won the BkMk Press Ciardi Prize for Poetry. 

Lauren Cobb wins another medal

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Just a moment to brag about Lauren Cobb winning the silver for her Boulevard Women! We're reprinting so you can have your own copy.

BkMk's Lauren Cobb at Fallbrook Library

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

July 8, 2014 Lauren Cobb Reading
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Location: Fallbrook Library, 124 S Mission, Fallbrook, CA

Reading preceded by open mic for original poetry and prose

Lauren Cobb, Professor of English at Bemidji State University, Minnesota, will be reading from and discussing her new collection of linked short stories, Boulevard Women. Winner of the 2012 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, the collection delves into the lives of three women, born in three distinct generations and living as neighbors in Athens, Georgia.

Boulevard Women will be available for sale and signing by the author.

For more information, contact K-B Gressitt at or 760-522-1064.


Bill Bauer on New Letters on the Air

Monday, June 9, 2014

Hear Bill Bauer and HC Palmer on New Letters on the Air's "A Call to Words" event at

Maine Literary Award goes to Christian Barter's poetry book, In Someone Else's House

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BkMk congratulates poet Christian Barter.  The Maine Literary Awards Poetry award for 2014 went to Christian Barter's poetry book, In Someone Else's House, published by BkMk Press

The Maine Literary Awards is an annual competition sponsored and coordinated by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.


2014 BkMk Book Publishing Contest Judging Begins

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BkMk's 2014 book publishing contest deadline has passed.  Thank you for your entries.  And good luck to the judges, who will have many fine manuscripts to consider.  Winners will be announced in August, 2014. 

If you missed this year's deadline, we encourage you to prepare your book for entry into the 2015 contest--deadline January 15, 2015. 

Greetings from New Letters on the Air

Monday, January 13, 2014

As we embark on a new year, New Letters on the Air takes a moment to both reflect on 2013 highlights, and to wish everyone continued happiness, good fortune, and good reading in the new year.

Make your new year's resolution to follow us on your favorite social media site. Click here to find links to our pages.

Submit to BkMk Book Publication Contest Online Now!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beginning in early December 2013 BkMk Press will accept online submissiions for the John Ciardi Poetry Prize and the G.S. Sharat Chandra Short Fiction Prize.  Please visit our contest guidelines for access to this new option for entering our book publication prizes. 

New Letters on the Air Wins the 2013 Clarion Awards

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Letters on the Air wins the 2013 Clarion Award for the best Regular Talk or Interview Program. The show was selected based on the submission of five programs. Read the full press release here. Downloads of the award winning programs are available through our audio archives or visit our shop page to order the Clarion Awards Selection CD Special.

BkMk Announces Prize Winners for 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BkMk Press congratulates Evan Morgan Williams and Jane Hoogestraat, 2013 winners our book prizes.
Williams' manuscript was selected by Al Young as the 2013 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize winner.
Luis J. Rodriguez selected Hoogestraat's collection of poetry for the 2013 John Ciardi Prize. 

Thanks to all who submitted work to the contest. We hope you will consider sending manuscriipts for the 2014 competition

Garbage Night at the Opera reviewed on

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fioravanti’s women deliver bouts of devastating honesty that elevate the characters emotionally.—Elizabeth O’Brien,

Stephanie Powell Watts at Chautauqua

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Read about Stephanie Powell Watts' presentation at Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.  From The Chautauquan Daily:  Stephanie Powell Watts presents the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle selection at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy.


Silver Medal for Robert Day Short Story Collection

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Robert Day’s Where I Am Now won a silver medal in ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards in short stories. 

Interview with Valzhyna Mort included in Poetry Daily

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Closer to the Water: An Interview with Valzhyna Mort" which was published in the Winter 2013 issue of New Letters was included in the  most recent Poetry DailyVisit the On The Air page to hear audio of this interview, conducted by New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam.

Fresh Review for Christian Barter's new book, In Someone Else's House

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Christian Barter's book of poems, In Someone Else’s House was reviewed by Denise Low in the Kansas City Star Sunday

BkMk's We Are Taking Only What We Need on O's 2013 Summer Reading List

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stephanie Powell Watts' BkMk Press book, We Are Taking Only What We Need, has made O's 2013 summr reading list.  Yet another wise recommendation to read this collection. 

New Bargen Book to be Released

Monday, May 27, 2013

Walter Bargen has published sixteen books of poetry and one chapbook.  His poems and fictions have appeared in over one hundred magazines, including New Letters, River Styx, and A capella Zoo.  He has won the William Rockhill Nelson Award, the Chester H. Jones Foundation Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. In 2008, he was appointed to be the first poet laureate of Missouri.  He lives in Ashland, Missouri, with his wife, Bobette, and twenty-some cats.  His website is


Whether turning his attention to the poet as unlikely, small-town-parade Grand Marshall, a relationship that’s reached the point-of-no-return that pilots know (“fuel / too low to turn back and too low to arrive”), fedora-tossing grandfathers who cheat at Go Fish, or American foreign policy as enacted by Laurel and Hardy, Walter Bargen reminds us—in language at once plain-spoken and oddly elegant—that we walk through a world fraught with equal measures of danger, wonder, and cockeyed joy.
                —David Clewell, Former Poet Laureate of Missouri

In Trouble Behind Glass Doors, Walter Bargen offers up—by way of those moments that adhere to us forever, those “trumpet vines / [that] once brushed the backs of our necks / at the zenith of a creaking arc”—a sympathetic voice to honor the land he lives on and the lives who seek its often difficult heart. Because “We never leave the places / we’ve lived. We construct and reconstruct our absences.” To this end, the poet has created a strong, lyrical, sometimes humorous testament that heeds a world we can very much, and gratefully, see.              
                —Gary Gildner

Press Release

Walter Bargen to Release New Book Of Poetry With BkMk Press

Poems explore life: life in general, life in Missouri, life as a poet, life as part of death.


Kansas City, MO. – BkMk Press of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is pleased to announce the publication of “Trouble Behind Glass Doors”, a book of poetry by Walter Bargen written during and following his time as Missouri’s first poet laureate.  The book contains 40 pieces of new and published poetry covering a range of topics with titles from Tolstoy’s Ants and Foreign Policy to Naked History and Scantily Clad Poet. 

“Walter Bargen reminds us,” writes fellow former Missouri poet laureate David Clewell, “—in language at once plain-spoken and oddly elegant—that we walk through a world fraught with equal measures of danger, wonder, and cockeyed joy.”

“Trouble” is organized into three sections: the first considers the poet’s varying and ambiguous role as laureate, the second contemplates and illustrates and ludicrous nature of the phrase “whole facts,” and the third meditates on the apocalyptic fate of the world around and in us.

   “The title says it all,” says Bargen when asked sum up his newest book, “the ways that we fail ourselves, each other, sustaining ourselves on the earth, are there for all of us to see/read, if we will just open our eyes and minds.  I hope the panes of these poems are clear enough for all to see through.”

Bargen, who resides with his wife, Bobette, in Ashland, Missouri, has appeared in over 100 magazines and published 16 books of poetry and one chapbook, including “Days Like This Are Necessary” (BkMk Press, 2009), “West of West”(Timberline Press, 2007), and “The Feast” (BkMk Press, 2004).  He is also the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship (1991), the Quarter After Eight Prose Prize (1996), the Hanks Prize (1996), the Chester H. Jones Foundation Poetry Prize (1997), and the 2005 William Rockhill Nelson Award for Best Poetry Book by a Missouri or Kansas writer.

            Media representatives who wish to obtain a review copy of “Trouble Behind Glass Doors” or purchase other BkMk titles may contact Ben Furnish, managing editor of BkMk Press, at or (816) 235-2558.  BkMk books are available through Ingram Company, SPD, Baker & Taylor, and directly through BkMk Press.


New Chapbook from BkMk Press

Friday, May 17, 2013

This edition of selected poems by Crystal MacLean Field has been produced by the editors of BkMk Press, in concert with the poet’s estate, to commemorate the 25th year of the Crystal Field Scholarship in Poetry at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  Proceeds from sales of this book will support the scholarship.  We trust, also, that the book will re-introduce readers to the work of this influential and distinctive poet.

BkMk Press author Stephanie Powell Watts wins the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Thursday, February 7, 2013

BkMk Press author Stephanie Powell Watts wins the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence For her book, We Are Taking Only What We Need (BkMk P, 2012)

Kansas City Literary Events

Arlin Buyert & Arts in Prison

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Overland Park, Kan.


New Letters on the Air Archive Audio on The Paris Review Podcast

The Paris Review’s podcast for Wed., Jan. 31, 2018, will feature John Ashbery reading his poem “Soonest Mended,” from a 1986 New Letters on the Air program. More information and links to The Paris Review Podcast here.


Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.