Sunday, August 1, 2010

Big Sky Poetry

It seems to me that one of life's best tiny gifts is the discovery of a new poet. I suppose there are different ways new poets arrive in our midst, but, for me, most of the time it's happenstance. This week it was via NPR's All Things Considered. They profiled the poet laureate of Montana, Henry Real Bird. Mr. Real Bird apparently is a rancher and has been referred to as a "cowboy poet."

The NPR feature and interview of Mr. Real Bird centered around his summer project--riding on horseback across Montana, handing out books of his poems to people he passes along the way! This seems like nothing short of brilliant, in my mind. Here's a link to the NPR story.

I found this story fascinating for a number of reasons. First, I'm a bit obsessed with "The West." I'd love to live in Wyoming or Montana someday. Second, Henry Real Bird came across as a true word-smith. In a short time on the air, he showed an innate ability to not only connect with the land and people of Montana, but also an ability to capture this connection in words. Here's a quote I pulled from the transcript of his interview with Michelle Norris. She asked him to share a few lines of his poetry. I'm not sure how the lines are supposed to be arranged, so I'm just taking it straight from the transcript:

Sunrise quarrels, recapitulation of sunrise quarrels, thoughts of man, civilization recedes, waves on shore of sand, attached to a reality now touches in life's span, (unintelligible) beginning of end strands, scratched thoughts drawn on rock of cave preserve our humble beginning, recorded in computer reserve. We question, wonder, learn, origin and beyond, shifting winds up the canyon walls, no barrier. We yawn from the constant vigil of progress that marches toward both ends of the spectrum cloning to nuclear arches. We give life and take life like them.
That strikes a chord with me somehow. I can't put a finger on exactly why. It just does.

The only frustrating part of this new discovery is that the work of Henry Real Bird is really difficult to find. My searches have turned up very little thus far. At this point, I'm pretty much obsessed with finding it somewhere. If you have any thoughts or clues, please let me know. The one spot I did find a few poems was on a Montana Arts Council page, but there's got to be more out there somewhere. I'll keep you updated. Until then, here's a bit from "Hoola Hand," by Henry Real Bird. Visit the aforementioned page to read the rest:

Today as I let go, a hoola hand into the dawn
Among silhouetted horse heads, held by a rope corral
But then, that day was many winters ago
To good horses you are drawn
I have asked that you ride the best
Of beautiful words to create images
Of life’s reflections filled with feelings of reality
Winters many may you ride the best.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Found the post on Henry Real Bird. I love the musicality of his poems. Something about his work (the shifting repeats?) also reminds me of Gertrude Stein. Thanks for sharing it.