OPWC: Aug. 25
Trowbridge, McDougall to read work at monthly meeting
By Ginny Masullo
TFW Contributing Writer
Ozark Poets and Writers Collective hosts a double header at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. Widely acclaimed poet Jo McDougall, author of five poetry collections, will read from her newly released “Daddy’s Money: A Memoir of Farm and Family” (University of Arkansas Press, 2011). William Trowbridge, who has been hailed as one of America’s wittiest poets, will be reading from his recently published collection of poetry “Ship of Fool” (Red Hen Press, 2011).
McDougall, best known for spare, vivid poetry collections including “From Darkening Porches” and “Towns Facing Railroads,” makes a remarkable prose departure with “Daddy’s Money.” McDougall’s sharp imagistic voice coupled with tight economical lines weaves personal history, regional agricultural history and an underlying current of both strong and broken family bonds into a perfectly pitched tapestry of Arkansas Delta life from the 1930s to now.
McDougall’s grandfather, father and husband were all Arkansas Delta rice farmers. When McDougall’s mother died in the family home, her father preserved the place as something of a solitary museum, forbidding both of his daughters from touching or removing any of their mother’s keepsakes. When McDougall’s father died several years later, she and her sister, once close, became estranged regarding the settlement of the family estate.
With photos, a fine judgment for the historical significance of her family’s life and deeply felt dismay over the dissolution of her sibling bond, McDougall creates an unsentimental memoir that is a page turner and a compliment to the genre of memoir.
When asked what she’ll be reading this Tuesday, McDougall says, “I’ll read something funny, something sad and something joyous,” which is an apt description of “Daddy’s Money.” Included in the book and the reading will be a few of McDougall’s gemstone quality poems.
Ship of Fool
The fool exists in all of us whether we admit it or not. In “Ship of Fool,” Trowbridge brings us to our own fatuous knees as we laugh and cry at visions of our own silly selves. These poems are a perfect balance of melancholy and light.
Trowbridge, in an email interview, says, “Comedy is a significant part of my artistic vision, if that’s not too high-falutin’ a term. I find most of my favorite writers, from Faulkner to Goldbarth, seem to share that vision. The poet John Crowe Ransom once observed that the human condition is ironic, in that we live in two contradictory dimensions at once: the ideal and the real — which despite the Romantics’ desire, can never be unified. There is as much room for comedy as there is for tragedy in such a world.”
William Trowbridge is the author of four other poetry collections including “The Complete Book of Kong” (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), “Flickers,” “O Paradise” and “Enter Dark Stranger” (University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 1995, 1989).
Since the University of Arkansas Press published his first three books, Trowbridge, who lives in Missouri and teaches in the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA writing program, maintains his ties to writers who were or are students or teachers at the UA.
Trowbridge and McDougall go back a long way, both publishing over the years with the University of Arkansas Press. They are a perfect fit for a double header, sharing a similar world and literary view.
Fayetteville is one lucky town. We have the University of Arkansas Press who publishes fine writers like McDougall and Trowbridge. We have a great independent bookstore. We have a bevy of writers and lovers of writing like the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective which each month features local, regional or national writers. Sprinkle that with the fine fare and drinks of Brick House Kafe housed in Nightbird and an open mic that encourages creative expression. All that adds up to a night that will send a cool breeze into your frying soul.