The Midwest Poets Series doesn't call itself the Kansas City Poets Series. No, it claims the entire Midwest. That's huge. But so are the poets who have appeared here over its 26 years: Andrei Codrescu, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Lorrie Moore, Jane Smiley, Grace Paley and Ed Hirsch among them. For $3 (but no one gets turned away if they can't pay), appreciative local audiences have gathered for these literary performances, where explanations of the poems' ideas or origins — often as lengthy as the poems themselves — provide context and extra layers. Afterward, author receptions afford casual conversation between writers and attendees. We still remember Carolyn Forché sitting on a stool, chatting easily, back in 1990. And years after we heard Philip Levine, his vivid imagery still haunts, his voice still reverberates. With sponsorship from Rockhurst University's Center for Arts and Letters, local editor, writer and UMKC instructor Robert Stewart has steered the series, which starts up yet again October 22 when Robert Pinsky appears as the first of this year's four poets. Robert Pinsky!