The kind editors of the San Pedro River Review and Blue Horse Press have graciously published me for a second time, now in their newly released spring issue of the SPRR, The American Southwest. I would have gotten it sooner had I thought to give them my new address. When Jeff and Tobi emailed me to accept my poem “Elemental” for their fall issue, they asked if they could also keep “Father,” a poem whose metaphor compares my father’s upbringing to the building of Hoover Dam, I was thrilled. I just never thought to contact them after our move.
But between their generous and quick response to my request to purchase two more (I still think Jeff under charged me!) and my former landlord finally getting the original package from the new tenant and mailing it along, all four copies arrived this week. Sadly they showed up on the doorstep as I was running into the house, full-tilt, ill from a stomach bug on Wednesday, a virus that has kept the whole family down for days now, so it’s taken until the last day or two for me to be able to really sit down and digest this hefty volume.
And what a beautiful volume it is, chock full of poems set in, or referring to, the American Southwest. It was a huge undertaking on their part, and I appreciate the care with which they ordered the fine work of so many writers, and distinguished poets like Alex Lemon, Adrian C. Louis, Ciara Shuttleworth, and famous Cowboy Poets like Paul Zarzyski and J.V. Brummels.
Of course not all of them are great Western poets like Red Shuttleworth, SPRR is very welcoming to Easterners like Doug Anderson, and the guy who writes this blog. I’ve also discovered some new favorites in Lisa Fay Coutley, Ken Hada, and the intriguing Jack Granath, whose rhyme and word play I find delightfully refreshing.
But I confess that the most thrilling part for me personally was not only seeing that my poetry hero Naomi Shihab Nye was also published in this volume, but when I was well enough to crack open its pages, I realized that Naomi’s poem was right next to mine, the last few stanzas of hers touching mine through the page. Now, this may seem trivial, even silly to you, but I have admired Naomi’s work for so long now. I can only explain it like this: You’re a musician and a big Beatles fan, and without even knowing it was about to happen, you suddenly get the chance to stand on stage and play in the same set as John Lennon, or Paul, or Ringo.
I have recorded at least one of her poems, and featured her in previous posts. She is the poet about whom one of my other long-time heroes, William Stafford said, “She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.” You may have even read her piece “Gate 4-A” that was making it’s rounds on social media lately, causing a pause for sanity amidst the current shameful and pernicious state of American xenophobia and racism.
So enough about me, order your copy of The American Southwest Issue of San Pedro River Review, and you’ll swear you can see with your own eyes how the river turn to fire at sunset.