Former resident sings Bonner’s praises through poetry
Tales of Wyandotte County will mix with images of Scottish castles in a new book of poetry written by a Bonner Springs native.
Lester Peoples, 77, recently released his book, “Poems and Rhymes from Various Times,” which includes poems inspired by his childhood in Bonner Springs and is dedicated to his high school English teacher, Doris Stith. The construction worker-turned-poet, who now lives in Scotland, said his poems are inspired by both his memories and simple daily observances.
“This will probably be my only book that I will write, but by reading it you will know me and from where I come,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Peoples was the eldest of five children, born and raised in Bonner Springs. He graduated from Bonner Springs High School in 1951. He said while in Stith’s English and literature classes, he was required to memorize poems and that was where he first developed an appreciation for poetry. At that time, however, he had no desire to write it. Peoples said he was a little more focused on sports in those days.
After school, he served two years in the U.S. Army before he moved into construction, working in mechanics, equipment and welding and as an instructor in his labor union.
Peoples said his calling may not have been to write poetry professionally, but his appreciation for the writing style remained throughout his life.
“… Deep down I liked the flow of poems that told a story and had a rhythm and flow as the older poems seemed to do,” he said.
Peoples said he took about three months last year to write enough poems for the book.
“My poems start as a child in Bonner on my bike, working in my uncle’s farm fields for my spending money while having funny experiences, as well as dreams and wishes most all of us have growing up,” he said. “I hope to remind others of some things they may have forgotten (through) my poems.”
Some poems also are inspired by his new home in Scotland, where he moved about five years ago. He said after retiring, he was fascinated with the beauty and the mystery, as well as all the history, of Scotland.
“I love to explore the castles, which are plentiful here, and wish they could talk and tell the stories of all that took place in their past,” he said. “I like the flowers that grow in abundance here nearly year-round because of the constant rain, which is in short showers and not like the ones I was used to in Kansas that set in for all day.”
With all this beauty around him, Peoples said his poems most often form in his mind after he wakes up in the morning.
In Scotland, he lives in Ayrshire, where poet Robert Burns, best known for his poem and song “Auld Lang Syne,” was born and raised. Peoples has a book of Burns’ poetry that also serves as inspiration.
The poems in the book are separated into the topics of humor, experiences, love and politics, forming the acronym “help.”
“All (of those areas) can be ‘helps’ that we encounter in life,” he said.
Peoples said he decided to write the book as a challenge, but also at the encouragement of the friends he keeps up with online. He found an online publisher, Xlibris, to publish the book, which can be found on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
“This has been a fun experience, but much more than I expected goes into writing a book being published,” Peoples said.
Peoples’ brother, Carl Peoples, of Topeka, is helping his brother promote the book in Kansas and hopes to get some copies placed at the Bonner Springs City Library.