David Harrison

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David Harrison

Poet Laureate

Welcome to my page. I’m David Harrison. In 1982, Drury President John Moore created the post of Poet Laureate and appointed me to become the first poet to fill the position. I’m honored to say that so far, I’m the only poet who has held the title. In July 2023, Missouri Governor Mike Parsons appointed me to a two-year term as Missouri Poet Laureate. I am grateful to Drury for creating this special page that gives me a chance to greet visitors, provide information about me, and explain what I try to accomplish as Poet Laureate for Drury and the state of Missouri.

I was born in Springfield on March 13, 1937. I attended Oak Grove Elementary School, Jarrett Middle School, and Central High School. In high school, I met and fell in love with Sandy Kennon. We were married in 1959, the same year I graduated from Drury with a major in biology and a minor in geology. I went on to earn a master’s degree in parasitology at Emory University in Atlanta. Sandy and I have two grown children: a daughter named Robin Williams and a son named Jeff Harrison.

In a writing course that I took at Drury during my senior year, Professor Clark Graham liked my work and urged me to consider becoming a writer. I’m leaving out the years of struggle that followed before my first book was published ten years later, a picture book that set my compass as a children’s writer. At this point in my life, I can look back with pride at 23 books of poetry, 43 books of fiction, 23 books of nonfiction, and 18 books for classroom teachers. The year of 2024 will see the publication of three more titles.

I have a website that provides information about my professional career ( and a daily blog at where I keep readers up to date on my life as a writer. On campus, the bookstore has or can get copies of my 2022 book, This Life: An Autobiography. It should also be available in Olin Library.

What does a poet laureate do? Here at Drury, I’ve had numerous occasions to contribute to campus activities — spoken to groups of students and faculty; co-authored a book about writing with Dr. Lauren Edmondson, a professor in the School of Education; presented to elementary, middle, and high school students visiting campus — but I also seek opportunities to represent my Alma Mater in positive ways with connections to literacy in general and poetry in particular.

State Poets Laureate are asked to write a poem about Missouri. I read mine for the first time in public in Stone Chapel during Drury’s 150th anniversary celebration. I also write and host Poetry from Daily Life, a weekly poetry column in Springfield News-Leader that features guest poets from across the nation and other countries. The column is carried in several other papers in Missouri and other states.

Thank you for visiting my site. I try to keep it updated, so come back again.

— David

David L. Harrison delivering a speech at the Founder's Day Convocation in 2023.
David L. Harrison delivering a speech at the Founder's Day Convocation in 2023.

Samples of David L. Harrison Poems

He Was So Littleby David L. Harrison

Couldn’t reach a chair,

just stood there begging,

eyes bright, fanny wagging

until I reached down.


His puddles were so little

sometimes I’d miss them,

but he always gave himself away,

head hanging,

ears drooping,



Loud noises scared him,

made him whimper,

come running to me

too scared to know what to do,

I’d pick him up,

hold him against my chest

till the shivering stopped.


We grew up together

except I got bigger,

he just got older.



we took him to the vet,

said goodbye,

left him there.


He was so little,

the hole in my heart





© 2013, David L Harrison, from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, all rights reserved

The Truth About the Saber-toothby David L. Harrison

The saber-tooth enforced the law

With giant canine, leap, and claw.

Victims whom he gnawed and chewed

Agreed he was a handsome dude.

No one thought the saber mean,

Just a perfect eating machine.


But vision dims as time passes.

Soon he needed eating glasses.

One day when he went to roam,

He forgot his specks at home.

Nearsightedly he lost his mate,

Who, by accident, he ate.


For months he moped about his loss

Without the will to bathe or floss

Until at last his stink was linked

To how the saber went extinct.

With rotten teeth and rancid breath,

The saber stank himself to death.


© 2014 David L Harrison, all rights reserved

Beethovenby David L. Harrison

Inside himself he mutters down the street,

Conceiving symphonies he plans to write,

Ignoring food and bath another night,

Until he’s satisfied a work’s complete.

Sonatas, string quartets are Ludwig’s meat,

Signs of growing deaf his crippling plight,

Conquering piano his delight,

To be Vienna’s finest his conceit.

As stone abyss of silence seals his fate,

He still imagines music in his head,

Denies his genius leave to lie at rest.

Beethoven earns his place among the great.

While lesser talents might have quit, instead,

As sound retreats, he writes his ageless best.


© 2017 David L Harrison, all rights reserved

Missouriby David L. Harrison

Written by tradition of incoming Missouri Poets Laureate


They asked a child,

“Why do you like Missouri?”

The child answered,

“I live here.

My friends live here.

I love Missouri.

It’s my home.”

It was a good answer.


They asked a student,

“Why do you like Missouri?”

The student answered,

“In school I learned,

the first people canoed Missouri waters,

cupped their hands at its springs,

drew bows in deer-high grass,

lived well off the land.”


The teacher said,

“Explorers came, wagons followed,

packed with bibles, fiddles, cooking pots.

Folks built cabins, churches, schools,

outposts, the seeds of towns.”


The farmer, voice soft as tilled soil,

said, “Missouri is dogwood trees,

front porches, barns, lakes.

It’s rows of corn whispering in river-rich earth,

cows in rolling pastures,

frogs at night singing to the moon.”


The business person said,

“Missouri is the heartbeat of many nations,

the confluence of cultures,

sharing visions, growing together.”


The writer said, “It is original thinkers –

Truman, Carver, Benton, Twain.

It is serious fishermen, rabid fans,

the Show Me State, Missouri . . .”


They asked an older person,

“Why do you like Missouri?”

The older person answered,

“I live here.

My friends live here.

I love Missouri.

It’s my home.”

It was a very good answer.


© 2023 David L Harrison, all rights reserved

Home-Grownby David L. Harrison


fingers lingering

over wondrous gifts,




he contemplates with satisfaction

the completed act.


“Nothing beats home-grown,”

he says.

“You won’t find corn this sweet

in any store.”


Another platter,

meaty red slabs

surprisingly heavy

on white china.

“Try these tomatoes,

tell me these aren’t

the best you ever tasted.”


Sweet onions

served with garden talk,

language of the soil,

wisdom of grandfathers.


Golden ears dripping butter,

spinach wrinkly tender,

delicately green,

cauliflower better than expected,

green beans

demanding to be bragged on . . .


“You won’t find these

in any store,” he says

to heads bobbing

over full plates.


He nods,

agreeing with himself.

I smile and think,

“Nothing beats home-grown.”


© 1998, from The Purchase of Small Secrets, Boyds Mills Press, all rights reserved

Who Needs a Friend Like That?by David L. Harrison

Ducks fly over

and I think of him,

quacking silly like a duck.

They never landed.

Such a dope!

Who needs

a friend like that?


Who needs a guy

who cracks you up

with jokes you never tell your mom,

and you wonder where

he gets such stupid stuff?


The halls at school

are full of kids,

but no one looks for me.


No one tells me like it is,

borrows shirts that disappear,

knows our house as well as his.


Now he’s gone.

He won’t be back.

So why do I keep looking up?

Think I miss his funny grin?

Who needs a friend like that?


© 2004, from Connecting Dots, Boyds Mills Press, all rights reserved

A Tick’s Friendsby David L. Harrison

A tick has no friends.

Therefore, my story ends.


© 2013, David L Harrison, from bugs, poems about creeping things, BMP, all rights reserved