The show includes over 180 artists of every type in booths, solo shows, competitions, workshops, presentations, performances, and readings. There will be activities for adults and children, and the downtown itself is part of the action as art fills its buildings. You’ll find me with Underwater Panther and Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past in the W.A. Billingsley Memorial Jackson County Library with more than other twenty authors in the Authors’ Corner.
A writer I look forward to seeing again is Annie England Noblin. We met when I read at ASU-Mountain Home, where she teaches. Her book is the perfectly titled Sit! Stay! Speak! and she’ll be reading at noon. My favorite character in her book is the Delta itself. She captures how it testifies in a way that no one can ignore.
These past two weeks, I’ve had the honor of reading at two community colleges. National Park College is in the Ouachitas, and Arkansas State University-Mountain Home is in the Ozarks–two mountain ranges, both in the state that’s now my home. When I visited Arkansas as a kid looking at colleges, I felt drawn here. The fun, kind people at these two campuses in such beautiful places remind me why I stayed.
Meanwhile, to tempt you to pick up a copy of Underwater Panther, I’m sharing links to five poems in the book from the places where they were first published. And with the first poem listed, I’ll tell you a story.
Amy Baldwin and I used to teach at a community college together. Near the end of her World Lit class, her students analyzed recently published poems based on the characteristics of the different periods of literature. What in this poem demonstrates Romanticism? Realism? etc. Great assignment.
The poem that she used of mine was “Inheriting Pressure,” first published in Crab Orchard Review. When I got the comments back from Amy’s class with subsequent discussion, it was like I was seeing the poem for the first time. Suddenly this poem set the entire pattern for the book that followed.
I was born and raised in southern Illinois. I live in Arkansas now. But it doesn’t matter where you come from. This poem and the book that developed from it are about what we inherit from a place without even knowing.
Next up I’ll be reading at Arkansas State University – Mountain Home on Tuesday. I’ve never been to this campus before, but it doesn’t take much time searching online to find that this school is a vibrant place. Concerts, lectures, they have it going on.
Here’s a shot they shared with me of the announcement that’s running on the screens on campus. At this event, I’ll be reading from Underwater Panther in the Gaston Lobby of Roller Hall, which I’ve been told is an impressive building.
It means a lot to me that my first two readings for this book are at community colleges. Community college has made all the difference in my life. This started with my father. His first class there, composition — a challenge for a first-generation American who graduated from a high school that emphasized technology — set him on a path that led him to become an educator. Because of the foundation he got there, he was able to be a powerful positive force not only my life, but in the lives of hundreds of thousands of students. Community colleges do vital work with minimal resources. My father always said that he learned more from his students than they learned from him, and I never understood what he meant until I began teaching at community college. With the shooting at the community college in Oregon last week, I find my thoughts focused on my community college students and colleagues.