Actually, I’m starting with Wednesday evening, the night before this festival that ran through Saturday, in Ada, Oklahoma at East Central University.
Albany poet Sally Rhoades & I flew down to this fantastic annual event that we both have attended for a number of years. After arriving on Wednesday evening at our respective hotels, we drove over to Polo, a Mexican restaurant on West Main St., to join festival Jefe Dr. Ken Hada & a grand cluster of poets & writers for a loud, convivial meal. We were joined by one of the festival’s featured writers, Patricia Hampl. Many of the attendees had been here previously, know each other, perhaps have traveled together, & so the meal was full of good-humor, teasing, faux (& perhaps real) insults, & just plain ole camaraderie, as well as the pleasure of making new friends.
|Dr. Ken Hada (r.) & sign language interpreter|
The first poet up, was Brady Peterson from Belton, TX. He began with a description of his home in a poem titled “Sand Creek Fault Lines.” Place, the great American theme of Whitman, Hart Crane, Charles Olson, & so many others, was just as pervasive here. He also read ekphrastic poems about French Impressionists, about punctuation & tequila, family memories & the marvelous poems “Chant” repeating the word soffit.
Michael Dooley read a prose memoir of his father & his grandmother, a family story of a fire & the origin of family strife, “Mary Mother Of…”
Paul Bowers began with poems from his book, The Lone, Cautious, Animal Life (Purple Flag Press, 2016), poems that included swallows, horses, his daughter, even the Wildebeast. His new poems included one titled “An Oklahoma Poem that Makes No Mention of Tornados,” & one from newspaper headlines, “State Flu Deaths Double in a Week.”
Time for lunch, but as I said to Ken Hada it was already worth the trip.