So I mentioned in my last post that I would have the honor or reading with Melanie Simms and Marjorie Maddox at the Sunbury River Festival on the 18th. This is exciting for multiple reasons. First, it’s right across the river, and I’ve been cooking up some plans with fellow poet Ann Keeler Evens to bring a revival of poetry and the arts here to this eastern part of the rust belt. And what a great opportunity this is, the first ever poetry reading at one of these local celebrations. It’s a good start.
We were invited to read by the Mr. Mark Lawrence, of local radio station WKOK, who will be interviewing us on Tuesday morning, the first time all three of us will have had the chance to be in the same room together. On Thursday a local paper will be publishing a written interview, and very shortly Emmy Award Nominee Erica Funke will be airing our phone interview on WVIA, and it’s translators as part of her Art Scene program. What an exciting moment that was to hear her voice on the line in my own home. I have listened to her program so many times, but this time it was me she was interviewing. Very exciting.
Yes, I used to be a radio announcer. I have over 14 years experience in broadcasting, so why all the titillation? Well, I suppose because this time I was the one being asked the questions, and about my favorite work, my poetry. It’s a good feeling, like the beginning of the next stage in my life.
She asked if I had a poem handy I could read on the air, so I quickly grabbed one called “For My Father.” It was inspired by a program on the History Channel about the building of Hoover Dam. They started laying concrete in the same year my father was born, just a month before the big day, and it just seemed like a perfect metaphor for my dad. I presented this to him for his birthday this year. The version I read on the air for Erica, it turns out, was an early draft, but the video I am posting here on the blog for the first time is the final version that I will also be reading Saturday at the River Festival.
A couple of brief notes for reference:
1. The copper pipes refer to the network of pipes that ran cold water through the dam to facilitate rapid cooling and hardening of the concrete. Due to the massiveness of the the construction, it is said it might have taken over a 100 years for the concrete to cool on its own. I liked the metaphoric implications.
2. “Deep as the Meade,” refers to Lake Meade which was created by the damming up of the Colorado river. It is placid and peaceful and apparently over 400 feet deep in spots.
You can read more about the tunnels, the gas, the workers, etc. right here: http://www.coolest-traveling.com/2011/07/the-history-of-the-hoover-dam/
For my Father
He was born before spring in 1933,
the year they laid concrete on Hoover Dam.
I’ll never know how he grew, slab by slab,
the cold copper veins, the gradual hardening.
What could I conceive of such beginnings?
Dark tunnels full of blood-boiling heat and poison gas,
the tense diversion of nature’s power,
rushing youth, and usefulness built on sacrifice
and solid ground. By the time I had arrived
he was tall and solid, with a deep canyon voice
he kept in reserve, as behind stone, a wall
of power—sustaining, intimidating, and resolute.
Only now do I begin to know
the vast calm beauty, deep as the Meade,
that rests behind the man, or fathom
what it takes to tame a wild thing.