Friday, April 27, 2012

Poet Laureate Journey

April 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
As many of you know Nancy is owner and publisher of High Plains Press in Glendo, WY. The three year wait to have Nancy Curtis publish Married Into It, was more than worth it. We were honored on April 21st with the prestigious Wrangler Award for Best Poetry Book of 2011. Upon arriving in Oklahoma City The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, (NCWHM) staff and guests gave Nancy and I a warm welcome.

The Jingle Jangle Mingle the Friday evening before the official ceremony, honored award winners and Hall of Fame inductees. Wonderful hors d’oeuvres greeted guests followed by an autograph session with literary, music, television/film winners, while listening to the wonderful music of Dan Roberts, this year’s winner of the Traditional Western Album.

We then hastened to the home of Linda and Lance Benham and their lovely family. This private reception found us feasting from a sumptuous buffet and enjoying the company of Western Heritage inductees, Wrangler winners, and special guests. Our hosts were the epitome of western hospitality.

The following day Nancy, my friend Toby Sprague King, and I enjoyed several hours of roaming the museum and grounds. A lively Q & A with Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Boxleitner followed. We returned to the Marriott Hotel to change into evening attire and found beautiful flowers and a precious note from my husband who could not be with me. Tears followed by laughter punctuated the “getting gussied up” for one of the biggest nights of my life. 

Following a press conference and second autograph session we joined honorees, family, friends, and guests for the evening’s festivities. Red carpet, crystal chandeliers, beautifully-draped stage, movie-sized screens on either side of the stage took my breath away. To our delight we were seated with Outstand Documentary recipients from Wyoming PBS. I heartily recommend their production Main Street Wyoming: Charles Bleden – Cowboy Photographer. Throughout our meal I practiced my two-minute speech
only to  the “deer in the headlight look” upon receiving the magnificent bronze from two of John Wayne’s grandchildren, Anita LaCava Swift and Brendan Wayne. I have no idea what I said. I do know I am humbly grateful to our award sponsors Harrison-Orr Air Conditioning  Inc., the NCWHM Directors, contributors, judges and staff who are responsible for this memorable weekend.

The drive to and from Oklahoma City was most enjoyable with Nancy but we are glad to be home, back to our normal routines, and in our normal working clothes.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the stunning art work of Sarah Rogers of Sundance, WY whose painting Caballos Pintados graced the cover of the poems. To our delight Nancy and I found out on the way home that the cover of the book is one of the six winners recognized by the Da Vinci Eye selected from over 1000 entries. The Da Vinci Eye is one of the branches of the Eric Hoffer Awards.
Who can ask for anything more joyful?

April 26
The K-12 school in Kaycee, WY invited me to join their students, teachers, and guests to celebrate Poetry Month. Katie Smith, writer, fellow Wyoming Writer’s board member, and long-time friend and I, were entertained by student vocalists and poetry readings and fellow poets. Tom Spence, another fellow board member, joined us and we shared information about the organization’s forthcoming conference. I was most honored to read from my work, share stories, terrific food and fellowship with this wonderful community. Being Wyoming Poet Laureate has so many blessings; I will never be able to count them all.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Travels With Pat

I want to share my journey as Wyoming Poet Laureate.  

On March 4th and 5th the Wyoming Poetry Out Loud Competition was held in Cheyenne. Judges for this year’s competition were Jim Coppoc, performance poet and musician from Ames, Iowa; poet and educator Diane Panozzo, and me. What a delight to listen to eleven students from across the state of Wyoming recite their chosen poems.

Sara Ellingrod of Arvada-Clearmont High School in Sheridan County was named winner of the Wyoming Poetry Out Loud finals held in Cheyenne on Monday. As champion, Sara receives an expenses-paid trip with a chaperone to Washington, D.C. where she will represent Wyoming at the Poetry Out Loud finals, May 14-15.

March 7th, I had the honor and privilege to share two poems before the Wyoming Legislature followed by a brief visit with Governor Mead. Rita Basom of the Wyoming Arts Council and Wendy Madsen of the Legislative Service Office guided me through the Capital and introduced me to a number of warm and wonderful people who keeps our Wyoming Capital running smoothly. Milward Simpson, Director of the Wyoming Department of State
Parks and Cultural Resources was also kind enough to join us for the readings.
My gratitude to all.

On April 4th, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I was delighted to present a reading at Fulmer Library in Sheridan. My thanks to Debbie Iverson, Program Director of the library for a well-planned event and Aaron Holst, a fellow poet who suggested my visit.

Old friends and new faces warmly received readings from Delights and Shadows by former National Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser and Margot Liberty, one of the wonderful poets included in Graining the Mare edited by Tereasa Jordan, and selections from my newest book, Married Into It.  I then enjoyed a wonderful stay with Aaron and his lovely wife Donna at their home which faces the magnificent Big Horn Mountains. My appreciation to all who made it a memorable visit to Sheridan.