Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Spencer Art Museum continuing to work on expansion; blog recognizes poet Maya Angelou’s KU connection; experimental poet to speak at KU

July 14, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I had the chance on Wednesday to talk with Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.

A brief aside before I go any further. I chatted with a longtime employee of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library a few weeks ago who was dismayed that few people seem to recognize what he felt was an important distinction in the naming of the two Spencer buildings.

Helen Foresman Spencer decided to make a donation and build a library at KU in memory of her husband, and even called it “Kenneth’s library.” She made another donation to build the building that now houses the art museum that bears her name.

Few people use the full names of the buildings, shortening them just to “Spencer,” which disappointed him. So I told him I’d make an effort to do so whenever possible when I formally mentioned them in an article.

Ok, so that wasn’t that brief. But Saralyn Reece Hardy and I got around to talking about the expansion plans for the museum.

They’re still in the early planning stages, but we know a few things, Hardy said.

“The plan is to stay on our site, but expand from here,” she said.

The goal is to integrate the museum somehow into the nature of the surrounding Marvin Grove. She said she also hoped that the museum would be able to expand its use of small study spaces.

“The thrill is when you’re in the museum with a small group of people, and someone shares something with you, something that they pull out just for you,” Hardy said.

We’re still far away from seeing an expansion built there, but it’s interesting to think about for now.

• Here’s a KU tidbit that I learned yesterday.

I learned this one while perusing a list of “10 of the most famous teachers ever” at the blog Neatorama.

The blog post focuses on famous people who also happened to teach, not people who became famous primarily for their teaching.

It mentioned Maya Angelou, the famous poet, who has worked for years as a professor at Wake Forest University.

But the post mentioned that Angelou taught at KU.

And so I poked around online, and it appears that, indeed, she served as a writer in residence here in 1970. (Though the last time I reported a famous KU connection, I was fooled because the New York Times got their wires crossed and mixed up KU with the University of Oklahoma). Anyone remember Angelou being here?

• And, speaking of poets, an experimental poet will be on campus soon, to deliver a lecture and teach a two-week summer institute in the English department.

Poet Aldon Nielsen is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. July 20 at the Hall Center for the Humanities.

His lecture is on “Experiments in Black: Innovative African American Verse Practice.”

Nielsen will also teach a two-week institute on rethinking literature at the English department. He has published five poetry collections, including “Mixage,” “Vext,” “Stepping Razor,” “Evacuation Routes” and “Heat Strings.”

• I don't know why the caged bird sings, but I know you should submit tips for Heard on the Hill to


Steve Bunch 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, I attended a luncheon that the English department held for her in 1970. At the time she was best known for her autobiography. I don't think her poetry would have gotten her through the door.

pace 6 years, 11 months ago

I remember meeting her at a friends apartment. She was a power. Love her poetry.

I cherish the memories of the poets, writers, artists, philosophers, scientists I have heard speak at KU . I am sorry I attended so many of the politicians events, they tarnish the halls. Probably were paid more too.

Steve Bunch 6 years, 11 months ago

Her poetry is sentimental drivel, which is why it's so popular.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.