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Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart


The Narrow Gate, book cover

Outside Language, Book Cover


Bobby Stewart and Robert StewartRobert Stewart and his grandson, Bobby Balice Stewart in Prairie Village, Kansas


Robert Stewart and his son, BenRobert and his son Benjamin at Bush Stadium.


Robert Stewart is editor of New Letters: A Magazine of Writing and Art, BkMk Press, and New Letters on the Air, a nationally syndicated literary radio program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He won a National Magazine Award in 2008 for editorial achievement in the essay category (he was a finalist for that award in 2007) from the American Society of Magazine Editors.  Poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Denver Quarterly, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Miramar, Stand, Notre Dame Review, Literary Review and other magazines.  Books include The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (essays, Serving House Books, 2014), Outside Language: Essays (Helicon Nine Editions, a finalist in the PEN Center USA Literary Awards for 2004; and winner of the 2004 Thorpe Menn Award), Plumbers (poems, BkMk Press), and others.  He is editor of New Letters magazine,

Robert currently lives in Prairie Village, Kansas, with his wife, Lisa Stewart, dog Sparky, and four female chickens, three still pullets. Their horse, Chief, resides near Hillsdale Lake, Kansas.

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)

Poetry published in these selected magazines and special editions:

Poetry Northwest, Iowa Review, Miramar, Nimrod, I-70 Review, Writing Poems (textbook), The Same, Connecticut Review, Notre Dame Review, Denver Quarterly, The Chariton Review, Prairie Schooner, Uncle, Stand (U.K.), Mangrove, Paragraph, Webster Review, Chouteau Review, Kansas Quarterly, Flyway, and others.


  • Working Class (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018)
  • Chickenhood (Woods Colt Press, 1015
  • The Narrow Gate: Writing, Art & Values (Serving House, 2014)
  • On Swerving: The Way of William Stafford (Literary House Press of Washington College, 2007)
  • Outside Language: Essays (Helicon Nine Editions, 2003)
  • Climatron ( Helicon Nine Editions, 1995)
  • Letter From the Living (Borderline Editions, 1992)
  • Plumbers ( BkMk Press, 1988)
  • Rescue Mission (Raindust Press, 1983)

Books & selected journal editions, edited:

  • New American Essays, co-editor (book issue of New Letters, 2006)
  • Spud Songs: Potato Poems, co-editor, includes work by Richard Wilbur, William Matthews, Diane Wakoski, Jane Kenyon (forthcoming, Helicon Nine)
  • The Writer & Religion, co-editor, original essays by Updike, Simic, Waldman, DeFrees; poetry by Atwood, Dillard, and others (New Letters 1994)
  • The Writer in Politics, editor, writing by William Gass, Linda Gregg, Jimmy Carter, Luisa Valenzuela and others (New & Letters 1991)
  • Exposures:  Essays by Missouri Women (exec. ed., Woods Colt Press, 1997)
  • The People, Yes, co-editor, memoirs of Jack Conroy (New Letters 1991)
  • Decade, co-editor, anthology of major American poets (New Letters 1990)
  • Voices from the Interior, anthology of Missouri Poets (BkMk Press 1983)


See “Robert Stewart’s Page,” /Magazine.

Selected feature articles and other nonfiction:

  • “A Creek in Missouri,” essay in Connecticut Review 2013
  • “Linear, Lazarus,” and “Defending the Body,” in Review, 2000
  • “Outside Language” (personal essay), The North American Review 1995
  • “Extended Time” (essay on travel and art), Borderline magazine 1994
  • “The Healing Art: Rainforest Sculpture in Brazil,” The Kansas City Star 1992
  • “Dead Sea Meets the Rainforest,” E: The Environmental Magazine 1992
  • “The Dynamics of Wit: Choosing Poems for Publication,” Spreading the Word, Bench Press 1990, reprinted 2000
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They leaned on shovel handles,
their high-top boots resting
on the backs of roundpoints;
at 8 a.m., the oldest, called Creek,
marked out the ditch to be dug
in the grass, or gravel, or rubble
of an alley, using spade or pick,
and got us started.  The old men
had gone to bed early, started
the day in miraculously ironed
work shirts, had had at most two
Bud beers the evening before,
in the yard, tomato plants loaded,
and maybe some rhubarb pie
the wife had made that afternoon;
and the wife, weary
by some standards, had not flirted
last night with a bearded guy at the bar
on her way from your booth
to the bathroom, which forced you
to say to him, She’s with me, buddy,
and hope to hell he didn’t take it
as a challenge, and understood
your investment in her time and beer,
and how you damn well need
to have your tools unpacked
beside the ditch, 8 a.m. or better,
and shake hands with a shovel,
and not roll onto the job last second,
hands and head aching, where the old
men would be wearing a stroke
of ripe-tomato juice on their chins,
and nod to Creek, whose knees
bent, a little stoop in his shoulders,
so a young guy would know
to take an extra turn in the hole,
and give him a break
every chance you got.

--- from New Mexico Poetry Review


My wife has been cut open
            five times – not the times
of love, Welcome, welcome;
            my boat wallows in the sea
the times of laparoscopy
            and three sections casting
scars like ladder rungs
            against a tree, or the rings
of that tree documenting
            times of rainfall or lack
of rainfall, her story tattooed
            and not easily translated
across her abs, the spans
            of pale birds some countries
call aves, lifting themselves
            like veils until look, this
cut, now, to remove the womb,
            an ooze of blood on gauze
where the staples gave.

            So daily I flush with saline
the salmon-colored aspect
            we expect our divinity
to have of itself, an ave,
            fruitful and full of grace
the depth of the wound,
            healing from inside out
and measured by a Q-tip
            the width of my thumb.
I pack wound-filler tape
            as an apprentice plumber,
packing oakum into bells
            of caste-iron pipe.  Flesh
spreads and closes itself,
            no pour of molten lead
to hold back all-too-much
            evidence of time before us –
muscles and corpuscles,
            pulpy as the flesh of plums,
lying sweetly in the grass. 

If I mention the home-care
            nurse, Faith, who taught me
to wash and pack a wound,
            someone will say, Being
makes us strong; the galvanized,
            turned-over bucket my wife 
needs to step into the truck raises
            her esteem; and someone
will say stigmata, a holiness
            visible or aching to reveal
this place & time in Paul’s letter,
            I bear on my body the marks;
my teachers, Dominican nuns
            at Little Flower School, covered
all but their hands and faces,
            but wore beads at their sides
and fingered as they walked
            five aves for each pater noster.

The proof made flesh lies
            in clouds beginning to rotate
buildings south of here; or
            a little girl I can’t forget
still running on a road in war
            directly at us, her arms
forming a cross on fire. 
            Let us pray.  I have what lies
before me morning and night,
            a woman cut open like a pink
line on a horizon, from which,
            fallen, glowing, we are told,
blessed is the fruit – this soiled
            packing cloth, a sign of blood
for the health of the wound,
            the time given us to turn
inward, healing body first.

--- from Miramar

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  • Pushcart Prize nominations by editors: 1989, 1992 -1994, 1996, 2000 - 2015.
  • National Magazine Award for editorial excellence, 2008.
  • Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence, for Outside Language 2004.
  • Finalist in nonfiction for Outside Language, PEN Center USA, 2004.
  • PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize, 1988.
  • Best Feature Article for “Bye Neighbor,” from the Association of Area Business Publications, a national organization.
  • Pushcart Prize, Special Mention-Poetry, poem, “A Flow Behind the Walls.”
  • Breadloaf Scholar in Poetry.
  • The Poetry Prize, Wesleyan University Writers
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Robert Stewart's page featured on New Letters & BkMk Press

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