Last night I was one of a group of five poets who read from our work to recognize National Poetry Month. We met at Hold Fast Brewery in Springfield. It was a venue where I hadn’t been before. Here’s a shot of former Springfield Mayor ROBERT STEPHENS reading his work in partnership with Ozark Literacy Council to remind people of the importance of reading. There were many more people there than you see in the picture. We were outside so the wind was a small problem, as was the sun in my eyes when I was at the mike earlier, but not as bad as the time I read at a literature conference while standing atop the third-base dugout in the Springfield Cardinals baseball stadium on a gusty day that sent pages flying into the bleachers. Earlier that day I’d listened to BILLY COLLINS read from the same spot so I knew it could be done.
Last night I read from THE DIRT BOOK (And Now We Know), THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS (Cow Pie Jewels), BUGS, POEMS ABOUT CREEPING THINGS (A Tick’s Friends), CONNECTING DOTS (Something Happened Over Summer), and finished with the last poem in CONNECTING DOTS (Wishing You Bright Paint.) It’s a personal favorite of mine. Here it is.
WISHING YOU BRIGHT PAINTSometimes I feel --
I don’t know –
like a tube of toothpaste toward the end
rolled up tight against the cap
for a few last brushings.But if I say the tube is paint
used in pictures of my life,
that makes me feelI’ve accomplished something,
used the squeezes
to make things happen.I like that better
So as we go on, you and I,
you to your life, me to mine,
I wish you tubes of bright paint
for all the pictures of your life.
Take off their caps,
squeeze them well,
(c) 2004 David L. Harrison, from Connecting Dots, Poems of My Journey
Tonight is the VIP showing of Words and Pictures — The Power of Literacy through Portraits and Stories — a collaborative effort by Ozark Literacy Council and RANDY BACON, sponsored by Arvest Bank. It’s my privilege to be one of the subjects in the exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow (Saturday, March 26) and remains open through May 28. I hope some of you will go see the black and white portraits of twenty-one subjects and their stories about they became so involved in and committed to promoting literacy in our community and beyond.
In 2002, the photographer RANDY BACON, well known for his black and white portrayals of people with stories to tell, teamed with Ozarks Literacy Council to create an gallery of men and women who had spent a significant part of their lives supporting the cause of literacy. I was one of those invited to be in the exhibit. The picture I was in also included author/playwright SANDY ASHER and singer/author JIM BILLINGS. These days Sandy and Harvey Asher live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and our friend Jim Billings recently passed away. I’m still around so I’m honored to be back, wrinkles and all, for the twenty-year anniversary of the celebration.Just as well that I don’t have a copy of the 2002 picture!
Each model in the new exhibit, which will be on display beginning March 25, was asked to write a brief story to accompany their picture of what attracted them to do what they do to support a more literate community. Randy just created this poster of his work. His pictures speak for themselves.
I had a fine time yesterday having my picture taken by master portrait photographer Randy Bacon. Randy was assisted by Cindy Dodson who snapped this shot during the shoot and sent it my way. I like this picture and wanted to share it today. Thanks again to Randy for joining forces with Amy Jardell and the folks at Ozarks Literacy Council to celebrate the 20th anniversary since an original event to encourage and support efforts to focus on improving literacy.There are to be twenty people featured in the exhibit, which will open in March 2022. I’m honored to be one of them.
Ozarks Literacy Council is partnering with noted photographer Randy Bacon to revise an event he did for the Council almost 20 years ago, “Words and Pictures.” In the original collection, I appeared with Sandy Asher, with whom I had partnered on various projects to promote literacy such as America Writes for Kids, and opera star Jim Billings. That was before Sandy and Harvey moved from Springfield to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
I’m honored to be a subject in this anniversary event, which will feature 20 people and is scheduled to be shown in March 2022. To accompany my portrait, I’ve been asked to provide a sidebar of 750 words or so about why I became involved in promoting literacy originally (2022 will mark my 40th year) and why I remain involved today. Specifically, I was asked to respond to this: “You could just as easily have focused on being an author. We want to get the HEART of why literacy is important to you.” No one has asked me to address that issue before. This is going to take some thought.I’ll sit for the picture this morning at 9:30. I’ll wrestle with my response to the question soon.