“Denial” by Pat Frolander, just appeared on TED KOOSER'S COLUMN American Life in Poetry and is included in Pat's chapbook Grassland Genealogy (Finishing Line Press, Kentucky, 2009). These poems are, to quote past Wyoming poet laureate Robert Roripaugh, filled with the "subtle strands of heart and mind that tie humans and animals to each other and the grasslands they share." Please click HERE to read Pat's poem. Ted Kooser, a Pulitzer prize-winning poet and one of our nation’s esteemed poet laureates, is from the Great Plains, the heartland of America. He is widely praised for his "plainspoken style, his gift for metaphor, and his quiet discoveries of beauty in ordinary things.” To listen to an NPR interview with Ted, click HERE.
Ted's book The Poetry Home Repair Manual (University of Nebraska Press) is one of my favorites, especially the section "At a window on the world" (pg. 31), where he talks about the presence of the poet in a poem. It applies to memoir writing as well. "While choosing your words it is as if you were at a window looking out into the world," writes Kooser.
HERE to learn about her fascinating documentary project, Right to Risk. In Pat Frolander's poem "Denial" the light shines most brightly, though sadly, on the ranch wife. And Pat's presence, as the narrator, is barely felt at all (see the 2nd to last line).
SUE WALLIS, the light shines brightly and intimately on the narrator of the poem. Sue was gracious enough to let me share it here. The photo, (copyright Kathleen Jo Ryan 1989) is of ranch woman and cow boss, Kim Smith, of the Cottonwood Ranch in Nevada, and also appears in Ranching Traditions. I just had the pleasure of spending a few days with Kim at the ranch. She shines a bright light on the world too. Here's Sue's poem, "Timothy Draw."
We pause at the top of Timothy Draw
Look down the country for stray cows
He cocks his head
Stands in the stirrups
Hands on the horn
Relaxed and easy and graceful
He moves with a horse
Like few men can
In one brief, quick space
I love him more
Than I will ever love again
Like passion, but not of sex
Like Life without death
Like the nudge and the tug and the sleepy smile
Of a too-full child at your still-full breast
Something that explodes from your toes
But flows through your bones
Like warm honey
More powerful than violence
I lift my reins
Our horses sidestep
... and we slip on down the draw
Two men. Two women. Both husbands and wives. Both living their lives on land they love. Yet such differerent experiences. Both poets capture the human experience. One, by standing at a distance. The other, by entering the intimate terrain of the poem. Both have much to teach us about life.
Sue and her husband raise grassfed beef on their Wyoming ranch. Click HERE to find out more.