Thursday, July 8, 2010

Real Poetry--Wyoming Style

When I won a residency at the Devils Tower National Monument back in 2008, I had the good fortune of having lunch with several members of the Bearlodge Writers group, who cosponsored the residency together with the park.  One member, Pat Frolander, (back row, lavender sweater) also worked at the park and served as my liaison, graciously greeting me when I arrived in Wyoming on the heels of an early winter storm. 

Pat lives on a ranch in Sundance, Wyoming and writes poetry.  Real poetry.  A couple posts ago I shared my feeble attempt at poetry during the Landscape & Literature of the Horse Retreat I attended back in June at the Vee Bar Ranch west of Laramie.  (Okay, yes, I feel drawn to Wyoming and use any excuse to venture westward!) 

I'll be the first to admit, however, there's a difference between Pat's poetry and mine.  In fact, Pat's poem "Denial" was recognized in June by Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate 2004-2006, in the American Life in Poetry.  With Pat's permission, here is her poem:


He called it "his ranch,"
yet each winter day found her beside him
feeding hay to hungry cows.

In summer heat
you would find her in the hayfield--
cutting, raking, baling, stacking.

In between she kept the books,
cooked, cleaned
laundered, fed bum lambs.

Garden rows straight,
canned jars of food
lined cellar walls.

Then she died.
I asked him how he would manage.
"Just like I always have," he said.

Amazing!  Through a minimal amount of words I can picture each decade of this woman's life.  Anyway, Pat shared her good news with me earlier this week, and I felt it was worthy to pass on.  If you by chance pick up a copy of Grassland Genealogy (Finishing Line Press, 2009) you will see that Pat's writing style is in one sense heartwarming, like "Requiem In Lace", and in another sense frank and forthright, such as "Wringer Washer", a short poem that speaks of a woman's tenacity. Pat shares a way of life in the contemporary west through fragmented sentences and rhymes that speak to the heart and draws the reader to her spirit.

As we all know, one of the best things in attending writers events is connecting with other writers.  And sometimes the 'connecting' goes deeper than we first realize.  Like finding out Page Lambert, the author/speaker who facilitated the retreat I attended in June, is a former member of the Bearlodge Writers and helped found the residency...and happens to be a good friend of Pat's. 

Maybe as our world gets smaller (as it sure seems to!) Wyoming will get closer to Minnesota and I won't have so far to drive next time! 

(*Group photo is by Alice Liles, Muleshoe, TX; Landscape & Literature of the Horse Retreat, 2010)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barbara, thanks for sharing your friend's poem as well as your own. I like the picture you took to illustrate your poem-nice perspective. Enjoyed some of your other blog posts as well.