It feels weird to continue on in such horrible news. First Boston and now West, which is a small Texas town about an hour and a half south of where I live. Everyone I know is sad right now, myself included. These are days to go dark, spend time with loved ones, and reflect. But of course I have no control over the timing of tragedy, so I hope you’ll understand where my heart is when I share my news and publications with you.
[I’m no expert, but I imagine that unless you’re a first responder or a trained disaster relief worker, staying away (physically) is probably more helpful than driving down to West right now. Last I heard they have serious traffic problems with all of the emergency vehicles. The best information that I’ve gathered, if you’re in the area and wanting to help: you can donate blood at any of these locations or donate funds to The Salvation Army. If you’re around Denton, you can also drop off water and goods at UNT.]
I have a guest blog up today at Deep South Magazine. It’s called “The Poetry of Place,” and it’s all about what we often call “landscape poems.” I talk about why poets are drawn to them, what makes them good or weak, and a few tips on how to get inspired to try one of your own. I hope you’ll join me there.
They’ve also published the second of my poems accepted in Southern Voice. “Rust Never Sleeps” is a small poem from my manuscript The Alcoholic’s Daughter, a collection about my dad that I hold close to my heart. Unlike “Nights in Texas,” this one isn’t free verse. It’s actually a single stanza of a form called the ottava rima. The ottava rima is traditionally used for long, epic poems, and using a single stanza is an unusual choice on my part. I hope that you’ll go read it, and that perhaps you’ll agree it served this poem well.
Maybe these Texas poems and post are not so irrelevant, today. Personal and public are all tied up in knots. My heart goes out to West. I think of how every time we drove through we’d eat kolaches at the Czech Stop, where the culture of the area was celebrated through food (is there any other way?). Like so many tiny Texas towns settled by Czech and German farmers, West embraced its heritage. My heritage. I’m Czech and German and I come from Texas farming stock – Neugebauer (the name I got from my dad; yesterday would have been his 58th birthday… knots, see?) actually means “new farmer” in German – and these are my people. These are my people and they’re hurting.
I wish I could do more.
Love and peace,