Watkins’ words making big impact

Former Jayhawk releases first book of poetry through own company

Life keeps coming 100 mph at Travis Watkins. And the former Kansas University football player is relishing every minute of it.

An accomplished student, Watkins left KU last year with two degrees and a vision to spread his beliefs through poetry. It took another giant step last week, when Watkins released his first book, “My Fear is 4 U,” through his own company, Layman Lyric Production.

For those who were moved by Watkins’ work when he was winning monthly KU Poetry Slam competitions with ease, most of his poems from those days are in the book.

“Then I added about 12 more,” Watkins said. “Essentially, the poems were written between 2003 and 2006.”

Watkins’ book release comes about one month after he and his wife, Brandi, gave birth to the couple’s first son, Reece Emery Watkins, on May 23.

He also just completed his first year teaching in Houston as part of the Teach for America program.

“I’m teaching next year until May, and then I’ll be doing this full time,” Watkins said of his poetry. “What I do also, Layman Lyric expanded, and it’s kind of an agency for poets now. We represent poets on the college market through (the National Association for Campus Activities).

“It’s going pretty well,” he added. “I’ve got some pretty big-name poets I’ll be representing. It’s a good source of income, and we also have the books we do. I’m doing mine, and I’ll be doing a couple of more other poets’ books within the next year or two.”

Watkins will be in Lawrence to promote his book in October, as part of the Am I My Brother’s Keeper black leadership conference at KU. There, he will recite some of his work that made him popular in the KU poetry community.

“It’s definitely social, political poetry,” Watkins said. “It’s also personal, my personal experiences with the world.”

Copies of “My Fear is 4 U” can be bought at laymanlyric.com.

No more Fresno: The Jayhawks no longer will be scheduling a home-and-home football series with Fresno State.

A series tentatively was planned a few years ago to be played in 2007 and 2009, but was held back. Now, associate athletic director Larry Keating said the matchup won’t take place.

Keating said negotiations with Kentucky for a future series also stalled, though there’s no urgency for the Jayhawks to find nonconference opponents right now.

KU’s 2007 nonconference slate is full, and the tentative dates are: Sept. 1 vs. Central Michigan, Sept. 8 vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Sept. 15 vs. Toledo and Sept. 22 vs. Florida International. All of the nonconference matchups in ’07 are home games for Kansas.

Dates to remember: KU players currently are doing conditioning and classes on campus, but the summer slowly gets more eventful. Among the dates to remember, Big 12 Conference football media days will take place in Kansas City Mo., starting July 24. Kansas, which will feature coach Mark Mangino and three or four players, will meet the press July 25.

The first day of practice is scheduled for Aug. 4, just less than a month before the season opener against Northwestern (La.) State on Sept. 2.