Poet Rick Kempa reads new book June 1 at Grand Valley Books in Grand Junction | PostIndependent.com

Poet Rick Kempa reads new book June 1 at Grand Valley Books in Grand Junction

Sharon Sullivan
Courtesy Photo
Staff Photo |


WHAT: Reading and book-signing by Rick Kempa, artist-in-residence at Grand Canyon National Park

WHEN: Noon Sat., June 1

WHERE: Grand Valley Books, 350 Main St.

COST: Free to attend

INFO: 970-424-5437

Poetry fans, writers and those with a connection to the Grand Canyon and other wild places may want to attend a Grand Valley Books event Saturday, June 1. Poet and essayist Rick Kempa will read from his new book, “Ten Thousand Voices,” and talk about the craft of writing.

The works in this collection of poetry are inspired by the Grand Canyon and other places where Kempa, an avid backpacker, has explored and contemplated.

“The canyon spirit infuses a lot of it,” Kempa said by phone from his home in Wyoming.

The title poem, “Ten Thousand Voices,” is a celebration of life centered in Nankoweap Creek — “an emerging water source that sings every inch of the way,” Kempa said.

The book also explores human landscapes, including relationships.

Poetry is everywhere, Kempa noted, like the time he was on the Ohio turnpike at a rest stop in the middle of the night and a custodian burst out of a back room shouting “Good morning, Good morning, Good morning!

“It was a poem in itself,” Kempa said.

He said his mother instilled in him a life-long love of language and she figures in the book as well.

The “canyon spirit,” and its “unparalleled beauty” as well as other places Kempa has wandered are celebrated in the book.

“I’m a lover of the West,” he said. “And, I like to walk — it’s my passion, and I always carry a notebook. Harvests come from a lot of places.”

Kempa recently returned from a six-day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon on the North Bass Trail — a “hard and glorious” trek from the North Rim to the bottom of the canyon and the Colorado River.

He’ll return to the canyon in less than two weeks to serve as artist-in-residence at both the North and South Rims. Some national parks provide workspace for artists at their parks. Kempa was artist-in-residence at the canyon in 2010 as well.

As an artist-in-residence, Kempa will give several presentations to park visitors, drawing on nearly four decades of hiking the canyon’s various trails.

Kempa’s essays and poems have appeared in more than 100 journals and anthologies.

His first book, “Keeping the Quiet,” was published by Seattle’s Bellowing Ark Press in 2009.

He is a four-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize (recognizing the best writing published in literary journals each year), a past recipient of a Wyoming Arts Council Literary Fellowship, and a current member of the council’s Artist Roster.

Kempa earned a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona and has taught at Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs since 1988.

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