The following description of the event was featured in a Missouri Humanities Council article:
The Governor’s Verses and Voices Festival Concert includes songs by Missouri composers and poets performed by choirs from across Missouri, displays of student art and poetry, and poetry readings by selected students and Missouri’s Poet Laureate.
In 2011, Bill Cairn, a carpenter from Ottawa, IL, and a 32 year veteran of the volunteer river rescue team, traveled to Joplin, Missouri, to assist in recovery efforts after the town was ravaged by a EF5 tornado. His experience during that time inspired him to write the poem, My Foundation, which was published in Storm Country.
In a collaborative effort, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, the Joplin Writers’ Guild, the Missouri Humanities Council, and Mozark Press created a collection of the region’s writers and poets who contributed their work as a fundraising effort to restore library resources for the Joplin School District. Storm Country includes contributions ranging from Missouri and Kansas poets laureate, to a Joplin High School sophomore, to a 2011 Pushcart nominee, to sixth-grade students from Fair Grove Middle School.
All proceeds from the sale of Storm Country: The Anthology will go toward books and learning materials for the Joplin school libraries and Teacher Resource Center.
Annually, Missouri Verses and Voices selects and appoints the Composer Laureate of Missouri and commissions songs to inspire the creative voice of Missouri’s poets, composers, singers and citizens. Amy Beth Kirsten and Robert Pherigo were the first and second Composers Laureate of Missouri.