"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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oklahoma's Poet Laureate, and a byline

Opening pages in story about Ben Myers
The power of a byline. I hurried up to the bookstore this morning to buy the new issue of the state's magazine, Oklahoma Today
I'd waited eagerly to see what the talented editors and staff of the magazine had done with my interviews earlier this year with Ben Myers, Oklahoma's poet laureate.  
After all these years, ah, such a pleasure to open the pages, and still enjoy the rush that  comes from seeing your name in print.
Of course the pleasure mainly includes making a new friend, and sharing his influence and art with others. Meeting and interviewing the good people of Oklahoma is constantly a discovery. Composing, writing, editing and rewriting is hard, sometimes agonizing,  work. But the people and the publication are thus all the more rewarding.
I'd met Ben before, and reviewed his books, "Lapse Americana," and "Elegy for Trains," on this blog. Traveling to his historic home in Chandler was an additional treat. You can learn more about him from Oklahoma Baptist University where he is a professor  at OBU.
The four-page story and photos includes a brief introduction, and is then in question and answer form. Go buy Oklahoma Today and enjoy it--along with lots of other great stories and photos.
Here's one of Ben's poems, that he says describes him well, and it's reprinted in the magazine:

Deep Fork
After reading David Young's Du Fu

This flat river gives the red back
to the sky above it,

both carrying dust and flakes
of clipped grass.

I walk with a slight limp
into the middle of my life,

watch turtles raise
 their heads in dead water,

in my pockets two crumpled rejection
notes from magazines on the coast.

A tree frog near my ear
begins its whine,

and I plan to cease my argument
with God about my little life.

I've been blessed with two
plots near the edge of town

and the opportunity to live
on the face of the southern plains.

I'm going to start wearing overalls
and riding an old tractor down Main.

I'll spend my days with these two
crows, see what it is they know.

--from Lapse Americana

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