Writing or reading poetry slows me down and lets me see the beauty and grace in the twister, and the twister in the beauty and grace. I scribble feelings to find words and images that help me understand humanity.
Shortly before my husband and I moved to Wyoming I interviewed poet Richard Hugo, who had impressed me greatly the night before when he walked out on stage, stood beside the lectern, and recited “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg” to a devoted audience. In the interview, he was warm and genuine, and I’ve carried that feeling ever since. I’m also eternally grateful to Naomi Shihab Nye for reviving my journal writing.
I’m a founding member of West Thumb Poets, six of us who live scattered across western Wyoming (including one who’s crossed the line into Montana) and who’ve been meeting tri-quarterly for a dozen years. We critique each others’ poems, and recently we’ve begun an annual poetry reading at Yellowstone’s Lake Hotel sunroom. I also belong to the newly formed Westword Writers in Riverton. Friendship with writers is invaluable.
The summer of 2012 the Wyoming Department of Education asked me to put together a reading of writers in my community (at the Central Wyoming College Sinks Canyon Center) for teachers of writing. Everyone remembers that night as magical. I felt so empowered that this will be my second April of pulling together a county series of writing, reading, and diversity events (at libraries, schools, and colleges) under the heading “One County/Many Voices.” It has been slow-going, but I believe each year it will grow.
I was a Wyoming Arts Council Literature Fellowship winner in poetry, and my former chapbook (now bulging into a book) was a contest finalist. I was selected by the Bear Lodge Writers for a quiet writer’s residency at Devils Tower. I’ve attended a great many workshops, and rarely have I come away without something of value.
I’m inspired by listening to music (tone, rhythm, flute, and tenor sax); the awe of nature (animals, plants, the moon, sounds, and scents); staring at paintings (expressionism, impressionism, post-impressionism, primitive, surreal, Brazilian); the West, so open (clear view of mountains) that it stimulates powerful images (fire, horses, and ancient civilization); and people (especially children) who are true to themselves. Lately, I’ve returned to photography, with its possibilities of focus and cropping; somehow that informs my writing.
I’m a free-verse poet who plays with rhythm and oddball rhymes. That makes me a free-verse rhythmical rhyming oddball.
Last night, and before, the wind
wrapped a ribbon around and
around our house, a noisy
process, rapping and wrapping.
Tonight it’s silent, and sleeping
is truly a gift. But, look!
Now he’s polished the sky
obsidian. If you could run
your finger around the horizon,
it would sing like a bowl.
originally published in Riversongs, September 2012.