Butler Professor Releases Book
New book by Butler professor is released. Professor dies after morning run
For more than 20 years Michael Cissell, an English professor at Butler Community College, wrote and rewrote dozens of poems. Last year, he submitted a few of them to Spartan Press for consideration. Based upon those poems, the press decided to publish a collection. In early August, “The Cutting Songs of the Butcher Son” was published by Spartan Press in Kansas City.
Cissell’s family members play important roles in the 27 poems in this new work.
“My family sort of comes in as the cast members,” Cissell said. “Some of the characters in the poems are loosely based on stories I’ve heard from family.”
Cissell grew up in rural Kentucky. His father was a butcher at a local grocery chain. He scaled fish, cut up beef and deboned chicken.
This butcher’s son describes in detail in the poem “How to Scream a Fish” lessons on how to fillet a fish as related through the viewpoint of a nine-year-old child learning from his father.
“These poems are a bit of an experiment in voice,” Cissell said. “I look at it as theatre.”
Sometimes the voices ridicule, other times they have fun, but often they pull the reader into a new world. A world in which a young lad explores the Kentucky blue grass, discovers how to butcher a cow, examines the fortitude of his father – the butcher, and grows up to impart wisdom to his own children.
“Most of these poems have been private,” Cissell said. “I’m a little nervous for so many people to read my work.”
Cissell obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from Wichita State University. A Kentucky native, Cissell moved to Wichita in 1994 and taught at Wichita State and The Independent School before becoming a fulltime English professor at Butler where he has taught for the past five years. He lives in Wichita with his wife and two children.
The book’s cover art was painted by Rob Compton, a teacher at Wichita East High School. “The Cutting Songs of the Butcher Son” retails for $12 and may be purchased at Watermark Books.
All of the staff and faculty at Butler Community College are terribly saddened by the loss of a treasured colleague. Michael was an impassioned instructor, mentor and friend to both students and staff. He was also the father of two sons and husband to an adoring wife.
Michael passed away on August 16. He had a sudden heart attack after his morning run.