Missouri State University
Kerry James Evans

Kerry James Evans

  • Author/Poet
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • BA, Creative Writing, Missouri State University
  • MFA, Creative Writing, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
  • PhD, English, Florida State University

MSU alum finds his passion for poetry

Standing on campus in the crisp Springfield fall weather brought back many fond memories for Kerry James Evans.

Evans received his undergraduate degree in English from Missouri State University in 2005 which built the foundation for his career, earning his PhD and getting his first collection of poetry, “Bangalore,” published.

Missouri State’s campus holds many nostalgic memories for Evans. He taught himself how to play the piano in the Plaster Student Union, he lived in Woods Hall for the first two years of his undergraduate degree, and he met his wife Renee in Pummill Hall during their Greek mythology class.

Not too far from campus, he married her at Jordan Valley Park, where a professor who influenced him greatly was in attendance. Marianthe Karanikas, associate professor of English, read one of Evans’ poems during the wedding ceremony. “It was a beautiful wedding and I was very pleased to participate,” said Karanikas.

Evans stood out to Karanikas long before he married Renee. Evans was in a nonfiction class with Karanikas and wrote an epic poem about his grandmother titled “Maude.” “That made him stand out. No one writes epic poems, most of the writers I work with write prose,” said Karanikas. “He wrote that poem years ago, and his characterization of his grandmother in that poem has stuck with me. I’ll never forget it.”

Evans originally came to Missouri State on the track team, not realizing that he would be graduating with a newfound love for poetry and the art of crafting language. “I grew up with story telling and I thought I had something to say,” said Evans.

Not only has Evans had his first collection of poems published, but he also received his PhD from Florida State University. Now a Florida native, Evans spends his free time throwing darts and kayak fishing on the Gulf of Mexico. But, he is looking forward to teaching poetry and instilling the values the English professors at Missouri State gave to him. “There were so many amazing professors here. My whole career started here, I was first published here, and they really believed in me.”