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Prof. Harry Humes

Assistant Professor Emeritus of English
Difference Maker

Nominator: Gail Thomas (Zimmerman) '71

Gail's Memories: Once a secondary education and English major, I went on to teach English for many years in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.  However, it was professor Humes' example as a poet that led me to continue writing and publishing my poetry.

I remember reading my work for the first time in a little off-campus coffee house, where professor Humes also read his poems.  We read to a very small audience, but professor Humes' images of life in a small, soot-coated coal mining town gave me permission to draw on my own family stories.  

Over the years, we continued a correspondence through poetry, and I began to publish in literary journals and anthologies. When my first book was accepted for publication, professor Humes generously wrote a blurb.  

Through the Massachusetts Cultural Council, I taught poetry in libraries, senior centers, schools and hospitals, and I always used professor Humes' poems to illustrate the power of poetry to move us with simple language and authentic emotion.  

In spring 2015, my third book was published; professor Humes, now retired from teaching, recently published his 11th. I imagine us, someday, giving a reading together at KU to celebrate the creativity that was nurtured there and has sustained us through the last 44 years.