Colorado Poets Center E-Words Issue #6

Not Just Another Poetry Reading

Mid-February, Colorado poet David Rothman, claiming the second-floor “ballroom” of the Boulder Bookstore to be “the best venue in town,” introduces Colorado’s Reg Saner (pronounced Saw-                   
ner) to the capacity crowd of fifty. As president of the Robinson Jeffers Association, its conference at CU this weekend, Rothman has arranged for Saner, conference keynoter the next day, to read his own work.

Saner, whom I first think looks like a rugged Frost and then change my mind to Sandburg, announces “Robinson Jeffers didn’t play the po-biz game” then steps to a table to retrieve his glasses before reading “Rock and Hawk.” “I’ve never written anything without a rock in it,” Saner says with only a trace of a smile, his soft voice amplified just enough by the small mike.

The conference’s theme, “The Alpine Jeffers,” seems perfect for Saner, whose prose books (particularly The Dawn Collector and Four-Cornered Falcon) and several poetry collections speak directly to the value of the wild and he reads effortlessly and successfully.

The next night there is more in the ballroom with another full crowd for a trio of poets, David Mason, Veronica Patterson, and Chris Ransick. I figure Rothman has just “gotten some poets together” but it turns out to be more: each of the poets discuss their first attraction to or experience with Jeffers’ poetry and then read their own poems that connect with his themes.

Mason reads from Ludlow with a slightly Scottish accent appropriate for the character of McIntosh Patterson, who turns out to have taken her honeymoon at Carmel near Tor House, Jeffers’ fabled rocky residence, picks birds as a connection between herself, reading a Jeffers’ line before each of her own poems. Chris Ransick reads his own poem, “At Tor House,” written 20 years ago when he visited the site, then goes to Jeffers’ “Hurt Hawks”, then returns to his own poems.

All the poets made a smooth and fruitful connection with Jeffers. To them, and to David Rothman, the Boulder community owes its thanks.