Nathan Brown was up first with selections from his prose memoir of his friend & fellow poet Jim Chastain, Letters to a One-Armed Poet: A Memoir of Friendship, Loss, and Butternut Squash. The pieces are set in the form of letters to his late friend, stories of poetry buddies on the road. The section he read about eating his way through Jim's poem "The Last Supper" (or was it lost supper), was funny, poetic, & touching. Again, great prose from the pen (fingers) of a poet.
James Brubaker read from a longer prose piece set up like an interview with a fictional band member being interviewed about the experimental jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, but without the questions. Ayler died in 1970, presumably a suicide, while the character interviewed claims, "God killed Albert Ayler."
The second morning session I attended was also in the North Lounge & this time the choice was made for me. Patrick Ocampo was the first reader, another of the festival's readers who had live in NY, in Schenectady no less! He expressed an uncertainty about doing political poems (I make no such apology), but his poem "Sounds of the State" (in the anthology Ain't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me) is fine example of how to do it. His final poem was "Last Poem Kills Audience," but fortunately that didn't happen.
I was the third reader in this cluster, & like I said, I make no apologies for reading "political" poems so jumped right in with "Richard Nixon Must Die" & included "Baghdad/Albany" at the end. In between, the Coyote poems, "Physics" (for Japan), even some love poems. Oh my, so many great poets in the audience!
A quick lunch with Larry Thomas, Elizabeth Raby & her husband Jim, & Alan Barecka, then back for more poetry, this time in the Estep Auditorium.
Dean Rader read from his book, Work & Days (just like, sort of, Hesiod). He read a number of what he called his version of love poems, such as "A Genealogy of Love Poems" in 4 parts each a different genre of poetry with blanks, like Mad Libs. Also a love poem about Frog & Toad in a Petrarchean sonnet, "Frog Seeks Help With Anger Management". He read a couple of Oklahoma poems, including the dust-bowl "Hesiod & Oklahoma 1934" & ended with "The Poem You Ordered." Clever work with lots of wry humor.
Oklahoma LaborFest & he was instrumental in setting up 3 Guys from Albany in Albany, Oklahoma. He began by describing how he came to write the "Oklahoma Cantos," pictures of Oklahoma landscape in quatrains (a selection appears in the anthology). The poem, "Learning to Speak Choctaw" was a memoir of his father who was a police officer & a veteran in the town. He ended with some "places & dates poems:" one about Mickey Mantle & a couple about his mother.
Fortunately, I had saved my seat in the front row (to take pictures) during the break because the house filled up for the festival finale, the reading by Billie Letts, author of the novel Where the Heart Is.
Thank you Ken Hada & others at East Central University for all the good work you are doing. Keep at it.
You can check out an extensive selection of photos from the festival on my Flickr! site & other photos & information about the festival on the Scissortail Blog.