December 8, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Sound Authors, where authors sound off. If you’d like more information about Sound Authors and Dr. Kent’s guests visit Soundauthors.com.Now, back to Dr. Kent and friends.[music]
Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to Sound Authors radio. Today is December 7th, and it’s the 40th anniversary of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”My next guest is Jim Barnes, a much-published poet. He’s from Oklahoma. He’s of Native American ancestry.Welcome to the show.
Jim Barnes: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Kent: Where are you speaking to us from?
Jim: From Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Kent: How is the weather down there?
Jim: Well, it’s quite mild now, but it promises snow later on tonight.
Kent: Tell me a little bit about your newest book to start off. It’s called “Visiting Picasso.” Am I right?
Jim: ”Visiting Picasso,” yeah. Don’t ask me if I knew Picasso; I’d probably lie to you.[laughter]
Jim: It’s published by University of Illinois Press. It’s about 100 pages of some of the best poetry you’re ever going to read.
Jim: What else can I say?
Kent: Can you read us one?
Jim: Can I read you one? Yeah, yeah. Nothing to do with Picasso, but I think you’ll understand who it is to do with.Let me take about three minutes. Is that OK? You got time? You’re not going anywhere are you?
Kent: I’m not going anywhere.
Jim: All right. The title is from St. Louis Post Dispatch. It’s a headline that appeared on the 18th of July, 1998: “Deputy Finds Dean’s Tombstone on Highway.”"Over 40 years ago, I saw you in my mirror, mornings below the slow day’s dawn. Working the night shift miles above Bohemia and in love with smiles anyone gave.I was you to the core. Looked like you even then. Hung my hands in pockets lightly exactly the way you did, and wore the light-blue pants. Our names the same signaled something I tried my best to grasp. Maybe I have it now.But for you, Jimmy, I would have remained in the North Country, and never have known the freedom of road and will. I was a slow rebel.Double for you in the smoky taverns of Oregon where lost women in mournful bins spill their lives on Saturday nights.You taught me how to desire, and what the desiring is for: departure. The setting out must go on and on.So I think of this, these decades late, after reading the Reuters release. In July there are shivers in Fairmont. Someone’s life somewhere is about to change – The tailgate down and the bed empty and scarred.Your name, our name, Jimbo. Flat on the road; sliding west with traffic. ‘That’s the way it ought to be, always this far from Eden, ‘ I thought then.This, far from the lumbering towns are lots full of ‘oh I sees’, I see you still. The standing shadow in every ditch, or curve someone sometime did not make, and a momentary reach for misguided glory.The pickup reaches home toward midnight. The two men, in late middle-age, lean their arms on the rim of the empty bed and gaze into the nothing they have carried to the sanctuary of the deep Indiana fields.”OK, there you go.
Kent: Beautiful poem.
Jim: Thank you, thank you.
Kent: You have a great gift for story-telling. Can you tell us a little bit about your story; where you’re from?
Jim: My story? Well, it’s dull. I have to imagine; I have to pretend. I’m an Oklahoma farm boy, ranching still in Atoka part-time, living still part-time in Santa Fe. It’s an interesting life. Still, after having put in 39 years in academia, I’m thankful to be anywhere.Finished up my career at Brigham Young University just two years ago. Prior to that I taught at Truman State University in Missouri.
Kent: And how is retirement treating you?
Jim: Well, if it were truly retirement…I don’t know. I’m so busy that I’m busier now than I ever was teaching.
Kent: A long sabbatical.
Jim: [laughing] Yeah. Actually, I only had one sabbatical in my academic career. I chose not to go. I’d rather work than wolf.
Kent: So when did you become a poet? You have such a gift for words.
Jim: I’m still working on it, man! I’m still working on it. I’m afraid of each poem I write. I’m afraid of failing so I have to go on and do another one and another one and another one.I started writing perhaps when I was working in the North Woods in the Pacific Coast range trying to romanticize a very boring job where there was nothing to do except work, drink and stay out all night on the weekends. I thought there might be something else and sure enough there was; it was poetry, it was fiction, it was good writing. Something that I continued along for these days when there is so much bad writing.
Kent: Do you know Picasso? Your book is called, “Visiting Picasso.”
Jim: Well, not well. Well, actually not at all. But you know, one does pretend or what’s a life for?
Kent: You’re a Native American poet. My parents actually live in Oklahoma and they work a lot with the Native American community. I know from their work that some of the folks would like to be called Indians. I don’t know whether I should say Native American or Indian. You’ve been called a Native American poet but your poems aren’t limited to that. They are not held down by that. Can you talk about that for a second?
Jim: Yeah I’m part Indian. Native American, I don’t know any Indian who likes that term. That’s an academic term. It’s a safe term, you know? But Indian is the general term and Choctaw is the specific, as specific I have. I guess there is specific in the blood. I’m an eighth Choctaw but I’m a quarter immigrants Welch. God only knows what the rest is except Mongol American!I’m a poet. I don’t care what they call it. They can call me a Welch poet if they want to. They can call me an American poet if they want to.But I write. I’m a writer first of all. My blood doesn’t talk to me. My head talks to me. I am a child of my environment. Anyone who says he isn’t, these days, is a liar. I mean a downright liar, a no good liar. You’ve got to be aware of your environment. You are from who you are. Oklahoma is where I started. Oklahoma is where I’ll probably end. There are a lot of other things in the middle as there should be, I think.I’ve traveled about the world. I’ve seen some good things, seen some bad things. If I want to use these in poems, I will. I owe nobody anything except the truth as I see it. Lord help me to give it to them all.
Kent: Amen. How many poems have you written in your life?
Jim: I don’t count. [laughing] I don’t know, too many, probably. Those I don’t like I try to throw away though. I don’t know. I don’t write a lot anymore. There was a time I could do one a day at long stretches but now I don’t do that. I’d be kidding myself if I thought I could. I wouldn’t even want to, you know?I like to write and then enjoy having written. That is the best part, man–having written.
Kent: Do you, by chance, listen to any Otis Redding? [music]
Jim: I have heard Otis Redding in the past, yeah.
Kent: His last song was “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” 40 years ago. It was a gentle beautiful song. You have that same soul and the same heart–beautiful gentle stories. I appreciate you being on the show and we’ll look for your book, “Visiting Picasso” anywhere on the web or where can we find it?
Jim: You can find it at University of Illinois Press’ website or you can go to my website which is simplyjimbarnes.org. It will refer you to my work. I appreciate you having me on. It has been a pleasure.
Kent: Enjoy the snow this evening.
Jim: I will.
Kent: My next guest is Cy Tymony, a real-life MacGyver. [music to audio end]
December 7, 2007 | Leave a Comment
It was our pleasure this week to welcome soft-spoken Oklahoma poet Jim Barnes to the show. He is of Choctaw and Welsh descent, but says that his blood doesn’t write the poems — his head does that. His newest book of poetry is filled with haunts and stories, and is available from the University of Illinois Press. It’s called “Visiting Picasso.”
To find out more about Jim Barnes, visit his website at: www.jimbarnes.org
This is the complete biography from his website:
Jim Weaver McKown Barnes, of Choctaw and Welsh ancestry, was born and grew up in Summerfield, Oklahoma. He received his B.A. from Southeastern State College in Durant, OK (now Southeastern Oklahoma State University) in 1964 and his M.A. (1965) and Ph.D. (1972) from the University of Arkansas. He taught at Truman State University from 1970 to 2003, where he was Professor of Comparative Literature and Writer-in-Residence. After retiring from Truman State, he was Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Brigham Young University. Jim married Cora Barnes McKown, artist and designer, in 2006. They now make their home a few miles east of Atoka, Oklahoma, on the McKown family ranch, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Jim is the founding editor of the Chariton Review Press and editor of The Chariton Review. He is also a contributing editor to the Pushcart Prize. He has published over 500 poems in more than 100 journals, including Poetry, Sewanee Review, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The Chicago Review, The American Scholar, Prairie Schooner and Georgia Review. His translations have also been published in journals, such as Translation, New Letters, Nimrod, Sycamore Review and Black Moon. His short stories have appeared in New Letters, Flyway, Connecticut Review, Texas Review, North American Review, South Dakota Review, Iowa Review, Descant, Sou’wester, Gargoyle, among others.
His community service involves membership in many organizations, including the Associated Writing Programs, the National Association for Ethnic Studies, PEN American Center, and PEN Center USA West. He has sat on several National Endowment for the Arts committees. He was Chair of the Camargo Foundation Creative Writing Selection Committee from 2001 through 2007. He is presently Poetry Editor for the Truman State University Press.
Jim Barnes has given readings of his work at many campuses, such as Texas A & M University, Baylor University, Austin College, Simon’s Rock College, San Jose State University, the University of South Carolina, Villa Serbelloni (Bellagio, Italy), Brigham Young University, University of Missouri at Columbia, Duke University, University of Arizona, Stephens College, Kansas State University, University of Nebraska – Lincoln and Omaha, Oklahoma State University, Brigham Young University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, University of California – Berkeley, Riverside, and Santa Cruz, Cal Poly Tech – San Luis Obispo, Camargo Foundation (Cassis, France), University of Lausanne, University of Geneva, Villa Walberta (Munich, Germany), University of Stuttgart, Charles University (Prague), Ostrava University (Czech Republic), Olomouc University (Czech Republic), Viola Theatre (Prague), Pompidou Centre (Paris), and so on.
His new book of poetry is Visiting Picasso (University of Illinois Press, 2007).
November 16, 2007 | Leave a Comment
We had the great pleasure this week to speak with author and poet Joyce Carol Thomas. She wove an elegant thread for the first half of the interview, telling about the rich, and free, history of Oklahoma, and her heritage there. She also spoke to us about her multiple award-winning book Marked by Fire, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and a re-released hardcover edition.
More information about Joyce below, from her website here:
Joyce’s book titles include bestseller Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: Brown v. Board of Education, The Gospel Cinderella, Hush Songs: African-American Lullabies; Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea; I Have Heard of a Land, Crowning Glory; and National Book Award winner Marked by Fire.
Ms. Thomas’ more than 50 books have earned her more readers and more rewards: the National Book Award, the American Book Award, three Coretta Scott King Honors, two Governor’s Awards, three American Library Association Awards, the International Reading Association Award, an Oklahoma Lifetime Achievement Award, and many more.
Joyce Carol Thomas is a native of Ponca City, Oklahoma (the setting for some of her fictional works). When she was 10 years old, Thomas and her family moved to the rural area of Tracy, California.
A graduate of Stanford University, fluent in Spanish and French, Ms. Thomas has traveled to Australia, China, Ecuador, Guam, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, and Nigeria. She has taught from grade school to the university level, including the University of California at Santa Cruz and Purdue University. Her last teaching appointment was as Full Professor in the English Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she taught Creative Writing courses in poetry, drama, and fiction.
She now lives in Berkeley, California, near her family, where she continues to write and publish.
November 16, 2007 | 1 Comment
Dr. Francine Ringgold, professor at the University of Tulsa, long-time editor in chief of international literary journal Nimrod, and former poet laureate of the state of Oklahoma, spoke with us this week about Oklahoma’s centennial. She read us two poems about her dog, one of which she composed just before our broadcast.
She also spoke to us about the rich history of her magazine Nimrod, its beginnings, its role as the spark at the beginning of countless authors’ careers, and its continued dedication to excellence.
Here is the mission of Nimrod Journal (taken from their website here):
Nimrod International Journal is published twice a year, spring and fall. Nimrod’s mission is discovery: the journal seeks new, unheralded writers; writers from other lands who become accessible to the English speaking world through translation; established authors who have vigorous new work to present that has not found a home within the establishment. Nimrod serves the national and international community of writers and readers by presenting the best writing, whether experimental or traditional:
- in print as Nimrod International Journal
- on the radio
- in live performances
- through creative writing workshops
- by sponsoring and administering its annual competition for poetry and fiction:
THE NIMROD/HARDMAN AWARDS:
- The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for fiction
- The Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry
November 16, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Our first guest on the special Oklahoma centennial show this week was author Diane Glancy. This part-Cherokee author talked with us about her new play, her upcoming film project, and her Oklahoma heritage.
Text below taken from Diance Glancy’s website:
“Writing is a conversation,” observes Diane Glancy, whose poetry, scripts, essays, and fiction have earned her numerous literary prize including an American Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, the Native American Prose Award and a Sundance Screenwriting Fellowship. “My students and I come together to take risks and reach new frontiers.” For Glancy, writing has also been a journey. As artist in residence for the State Arts Council of Oklahoma she traveled the state for a decade, teaching the skills of writing, oral communication and critical thinking. Her growing reputation as a writer opened the door to a fellowship at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
Glancy is a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she taught Native American Literature and Creative Writing. She is now on a four-year sabbatical / early retirement program. Glancy also taught in the Bread Loaf School of English M.A. program on the campus of the Native American Preparatory School in Rowe, New Mexico, in 1999. She was the 1998 Edlestein-Keller Minnesota Writer of Distinction, University of Minnesota, where she taught Topics in Advanced Poetry. Glancy also was the Native American Inroads Mentor at The Loft in Minneapolis where she taught Creative Nonfiction in 1997.
Purchase all of Diane Glancy’s books from your local bookstore, or visit amazon.com