Poet Spotlight: Poets Write About Medford
WESTWARD EXPANSION: The Discovery of Medford
"Go west, young man," Horace Greeley
declared, and a hundred years later
From six miles up we watched
as the patchwork quilt of the plains
rolled past beneath us and wrinkled
into ridge after ridge of mountains.
We changed planes in San Francisco
and veered north. There we found
clouds-- beneath us and as far into
our future as we could see, nothing but
clouds, charcoal gray, massed, and rolling.
We held hands, hoping our way across
an invisible boundary into our new home.
And the descent-- a hole opened in
the blanket of cloud-- rose-tinted and peach-edged
from the rays of the setting sun
that blessed our plane
as it slipped down into this hallowed valley
where no wind would howl,
where all things growing bloom,
and where our destiny gently
Medford, My Home
Medford was a railroad town, they say,
and I have read it's true.
I hear the whistle blowing in the night
when the train comes through.
I hear the whistle blowing in the night,
a melancholy blue,
and think of going with it to the north--
line's end will do.
I think of going with it to the north--
it seems to go one way of late,
a one-way train. And even worse,
it carries only freight.
It's a one-way train, and i would go
if only I could ride in big box cars like
I think this poem is over, now. It's clear
that Klamath Falls is where
I should have gone house-hunting years ago.
Instead I'm stuck here in this bungalow
Poets Write About Medford
"The pretentious coffee shops of New York City have nothing on Medford when it comes to poetry,." This is a quote from an article in Medford's Mail Tribune on Sunday, April 28, following the reading of poems about Medford at the Medford Library on Saturday afternoon. Seventeen OPA poets from around the state contributed poems to an anthology made available at the reading. The event was organized by OPA Board Member Carol Brockfield at the suggestion made by former Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Fusao Inada at the OPA Fall Conference in Medford last October. The book was published by Brockfield aka Oakleaf Press.
Lawson Inada is always a strong drawing card. On Saturday he demonstrated his unquenchable enthusiasm for bringing poetry to the people and making Medford shine."This book is the first of its kind," he said. "It should be checked out by newcomers to the Rogue Valley, as well as by veteran residents."
Poems by three poets were quoted in the article. "Pass by Slow," a poem by OPA's Acting President Tiel Ansari told of driving through the mountains from Portland to Medford. Dee Chadwell, the spokesperson for the group currently steering OPA's Rogue Valley Chapter, wrote "Westward Expansion," about her arrival in Medford by air many years ago. Carol Brockfield wrote of Medford's beginnings as a railroad town in "Medford, My Home."
Two listeners in the audience offered ultimately satisfying responses. Said one, "I came to hear a friend who was reading, but it was so enjoyable that I stayed the whole time." The other remarked that she had never tried to write a poem because she assumed that "lofty" language was required. "These poems weren't at all 'lofty,'" she said, implying that maybe she would join in and try her hand.
Medford Tribune link: Poems About Medford Bring Forth Good Vibes
Poet Spotlight: Toni Hanner
We serve Thanksgiving dinner on the back
of our father’s polished guitar, there is a breadboat
and a small aperture full of violets. This
we are expected to repeat each year. One day
I take the guitar from behind the reredos. I carve
dense mayhem into the spruce. I offer the guitar to a field
where bees are going mad in heavy heads
of lavender. When Thanksgiving comes again
I serve chole bhatour from an altar made
of our mother’s bones. No one is happy.
They ask me what have you done with father’s guitar.
I bring each one a basket of lavender.
The traffic on the boulevard below my window
has lost all respect for tradition, turning in circles,
a slow cortege. Nobody has died in weeks.
In my family I was always the one pushing and pulling at the sticky web of custom, always the one to suggest lasagna for the holiday dinner instead of a turkey. My resistance was futile—I was outnumbered by my parents, my sister and brother and their children.
Now I’m just about the only one left, and thinking about the way I struggled against tradition, expectation, against that oldest and strongest of “family values”—guilt.
This poem attempts to view this struggle through a safety shield of metaphoric language.
Toni Hanner’s poems appear in Yellow Medicine Review, MARGIE, Alehouse, Calyx, Gargoyle, Tiger’s Eye,and others. She is a member of Lane Literary Guild’s Red Sofa Poets and Port Townsend’s Madrona Writers. She had two books published in 2012 — The Ravelling Braid from Tebot Bach, and a chapbook of surrealist poems, Gertrude, from Traprock.
Hanner’s passion at this time is for writing that is energetic and edgy. She enjoys playing with language using word lists, photographs, and writing prompts. She leads a weekly writing practice group and often provides generative writing exercises (including the infamous “Pass the Prompt”) at writing conferences in Oregon and Washington. She is married to the poet Michael Hanner and lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Poet Spotlight: Virginia Corrie-Cozart
As their wings dry
out of the chrysalises,
the party’s hostess uncurls
their long tongues
with a thin stick,
introduces them to molasses
That’s how they learn
with butterfly intelligence
to locate substitute narcissus.
Now, one sips from the edge
of the punch bowl.
Another lights on Bridey’s hair,
then Terence’s shoulder.
An orange and black magic show
skitters through the rooms.
When they stay too long
at the party and miss
migration by a cold snap,
they are sent by U.S. Postal Service
in a brown padded mailer
to a eucalyptus
on the Monterey Peninsula.
Virginia Corrie-Cozart reading at the 2011 Northwest Poets’ Concord Photo by Ellen Hamill
About the Poem
The phenomenon of monarch migration from the northwestern U.S. to a small area of eucalyptus groves in southern California is now widely known, but Virginia Corrie-Cozart’s “Monarchs” translates that knowledge into a whimsical vision, rich in delightful particulars. To create such magic, the poet must have absorbed a bit of “butterfly intelligence.” This poem was selected by Matthew Dickman for first place in the free verse category of OPA’s fall 2010 contest and published in Verseweavers 15.
About the Poet
An Oregon native who grew up on a dairy farm near Bandon, Virginia Corrie-Cozart lived in Salem from the early 1970s until her death from cancer this past summer. Accomplished in music and visual art as well as in poetry, she retained a deep attachment to the southern Oregon coast, which inspired much of her painting and writing.
After raising three children and earning a Master’s of Music from OSU, she taught music in the Salem public schools and took poetry workshops with William Stafford, Christopher Howell, Tom Crawford, and others. Since her retirement from teaching, she and her husband, David Cozart, shared their mutual love of all the arts both in travel and at home in Oregon.
Long active in OSPA/OPA, Virginia served a term on the board, was a member of the committee that maintains the Oregon Poetry Collection at the State Library, and co-founded and co-chaired the Mid-Valley Poetry Society, OPA’s Salem-area unit. In Salem, she also participated in a poetry critique group, the Peregrine Writers.
Her poetry has been published in various Oregon periodicals and won awards in OSPA/OPA contests as well as receiving the Ben Hur Lampman prize, given jointly by OSPA and The Oregonian. In 2003, Traprock Books published a full-length collection of her poems, titled A Mutable Place.