I'm published. Well, sort of.
Friend, poet, publisher, teacher and activist Jeanetta Calhoun Mish sent me an autographed copy of her new book today, "Oklahomeland," a collection of 12 of her essays.
I've read some of these essays, and been privileged to first read others. They're about the arts and the land, and the book, dedicated "for my Oklahomies," is published by Lamar University Press in Beaumont, Republic of Texas.
The cover art is also Oklahoma. Jeanetta wrote: "For the cover and the title, thanks to the anonymous graffiti artist who painted Oklahomeland on a wall in the Plaza District in Oklahoma City."
That is also so Jeanetta, a Wewoka girl who sponsors writing workshops, conducts the creative writing program at OCU, leads Labor Day events for working people and writes and publishes poetry and essays in her business, Mongrel Empire Press.
I first met her years ago at the Western Heritage Awards at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum where her poetry book, "Work is Love Made Visible" won the Wrangler. Since then it's been a pleasure become friends, to review many of her books and become friends with many of her authors, mostly Oklahoma poets.
Oh, and me published? She asked me to write a blurb for the back cover. I'm more than honored.
Here's the blurb:
"Oklahomeland welcomes you to the real Oklahoma, the Oklahoma not of a musical, but of sweat-stained people, of a raw land and emotions. Jeanetta Calhoun Mish is foremost a story-teller whose compelling narratives and imagery entice you into caring as much as she does. You can take a walk with a little girl and her Grandpa or drive down a rural highway, always connected with the land. Even the more "scholarly" subjects are conversations told with passion and fire, whether about Woody Guthrie or lynchings in her hometown. It's fitting she chose a quote from another writer of much emotional power, William Faulkner for the title of the essay, 'Like a Fire in Dry Grass,' for when Mish writes about Oklahoma's people and causes, she is also like a fire in dry grass.--Terry Clark, Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame"
But to really grab you, here is the opening of the essay "This Oklahoma We Call Home"--"The 8mm film is grainy now, with the passage of forty years, but, for me, the moment it captures never fades. A dark-headed girl in a cotton summer dress, maybe five years old, walks across a blooming pasture, side by side, hand in hand, with... ."
Here are the arts essays: "Who/What? Oklahomans/ Writing"; "A Review of Woody Guthrie's House of Earth"; "Two New Working-Class Poetry Collections"; "'Culture Warriors'"; "Meditative Presence: The Photographs of Craig Varjabedian"; "A Review of Linda Hogan's Dark, Sweet"; "Looking for (Ralph" Ellison."
The Oklahomeland essays: "Western Civilization"; "This Oklahoma We Call Home"; "Remembering Number Nine"; "Broken Branches"; "Like a Fire in Dry Grass."
Now, go buy and read the book. You'll know you are home.
"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.