Day 1, at East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma.
I'm just a newby here at this 6th Annual gathering, but damn am I having a great time! It's not just the readings, but the "hang-time" with anyone you want to meet, & a poetry table that will keep you busy for the next year.
George McCormick read a prose narrative, "The Mexican," in the voice of a young boy, loading ice into boxcars, then the lying version of the tale the boy tells his children.
(that can be found in the anthology Ain't Nobody that Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing (Mongrel Empire Press, 2010), edited by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish) about the mixing of everybody at a blues festival in Bricktown in Oklahoma City. He also included a poem that is a favorite of Larry Thomas, the Poet Laureate of Texas, (about whom more later) "Hands."
J. Don Cook is a journalist & photographer who read an essay about his experience in covering the famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s, as well as a couple poems.
Ben Myers read poems from his book, Elegy for Trains, about memory & the past, such as the humorous “Poets with Happy Childhoods,” as well as poems about his home state, “Bury Me in Oklahoma” & “The City Dump.”
I chose to attend the second afternoon reading that included 3 poets from the anthology (& got them to sign my copy). Jane Vincent Taylor read one of her “sonnets from childhood” other poems about teaching, about superstitions (“Everyday Beliefs”), about her writing friends, & a dream about her union-member father.
Jeanne Dunbar-Green read a short story, “Since It’s You and All” that I had just read the night before in the anthology. Nice to hear it in her country accent.
Arn Henderson read in a slow, careful, undramatic manner that didn’t detract from his vivid poems, such as the one about a woman who made a quilt from her dead husband’s clothes, and actually worked quite well with his spare descriptions of Oklahoma places in “Base Line & Meridian,” based on surveys that form the grid that is Oklahoma.