In celebration of National Poetry Month, Western New Mexico University Professor Heather Frankland’s English 099 morning class completed a special assignment and worked with Silver City and Grant County Poet Laureate Eve West Bessier, who led the students through an image prompt that used N. Scott Momaday’s poem, “Delight Song of Tsoai-talee,” as inspiration. Bessier published and featured three of the student poems in her poet laureate blog on the Southwest Word Fiesta website. Jasmine Chambers’ poem is an example of the outstanding work these students produced.
“I am Alive”
By Jasmine Chambers
I am the pen that writes my story
I am the sun that gets up everyday
I am the hands that work hard
I am the water within every stream
I am the ink on the paper
I am the pixels on the screen
I am the color of the picture
I am the emptiness in the room
I stand in good relation to my family
I stand in good relation to the guides
I stand in good relation to myself
You see, I am alive, I am alive
Additional poetry prompts throughout the month helped students connect to image and line. They read poetry from other southern New Mexican voices like Connie Voisine, and modeled poems after her lyrical love poem, “Lemon Ice.” Presley Jackson wrote poem that follows here.
By Presley Jackson
You are more than sunshine in the rain
More than a drained putt after a bad shot
A nice cold drink in the hot sun,
More than the diamond on a beautiful wedding ring
The poppies in the Florida mountains
More than the views of the Gila Forest
You are more than that.
Frankland’s afternoon English 099 class also completed a special project for National Poetry Month, focusing on the dialogue between landscape and poetry. Colorado-based landscape artist Meghan Wilbar was a guest to the class, and she discussed her process. The students then looked at how that connected to writing image-based landscape poetry. Along with other image-based work, each student wrote a poem in response to a specific drawing or painting of Meghan’s. Below are two students’ response poems as examples of the work accomplished in this project. (The link in each title leads to Meghan’s corresponding work.)
June Painting, Close to Home Series
By Araelia Haskie
The sky is pink, filled with the color of a sunset.
I can start to feel the coolness of the summer night.
Passing the fields, you can see the softball and basketball court lit up.
In the distance, you can see the different colors of lights from the carnival.
Hearing the beat of the drum, and men and women singing the powwow songs.
Hearing the jingles from the jingle dresses, hearing the announcer talk in a “rez accent.”
Smelling and hearing the noise from the concessions generator to keep their food stands up.
All the laughter, and happiness around, I feel that I am home.
Bear Creek, from Looking West Series
By Jeremiah Saucedo
I sit there with my feet in the clear water,
Staring at the reflection of the sky above me,
Dreaming of what might come.
Far away from me,
A sight striped of her beauty
As if fire tore her apart.
Yet the summer rain
Kept her from dying
In front of me
Embarrassed of looking,
I disappear into the valley
Waiting for her beauty
To be reflected in creek.